Step #5 to Better Intimacy: Resolving Conflicts

One of the greatest roadblocks to intimacy is when partners are in the midst of destructive conflict. Conflict is inevitable in every relationship and marriage. However, conflict is not inherently bad. How we handle it determines if it is destructive or constructive.

As individuals, many factors influence how we each address conflict ~ individual perceptions, beliefs, interpretations, and competing wants to name a few. How our family modeled conflict resolution when we were growing up also has a big influence on how we handle it as an adult.
One huge obstacle to resolution is when destructive conflict behaviors are present such as making negative comparisons, nagging, name calling, shifting blame, walking away, refusing to discuss, and/or using sarcasm or profanity.

Getting past destructive behaviors and replacing them with constructive patterns is scary because it calls on each of us to be vulnerable, honest, and forgiving of our teammate as well as ourselves. Here is a glimpse of the process MarriageTeam coaches facilitate to help couples start resolving conflicts as a team.

Successful conflict resolution requires a shift from “what is best for me” to “what is best for our team.”

  • Each teammate identifies the destructive behaviors they use.
  • They discuss these destructive behaviors with each other.
  • Each chooses two of their teammates’ destructive behaviors that have the biggest impact on them.
  • Next, each teammate selects two constructive behaviors  (like active listening, accepting our role and apologizing, forgiving each other or praying together) to replace the destructive behaviors.
  • Each teammate agrees to replacing the destructive behaviors with the agreed-upon constructive behaviors.
  • Finally, each teammate gives the other permission to remind them of their commitment.
“While my wife and I share the same life values, our perception of a current situation and our outlook on the future can differ substantially. As a couple, the most important point is to recognize and not ignore the conflict. And harmony can be restored only by constructive dialogue, where both partners actively listen and speak effectively. A good dose of humility also helps restore harmony. Partners need to recognize their own limits in their perception of a situation and recognize who has a greater stake in an issue. Uninterrupted dialogue in a prayerful attitude can then bring oneness in the relationship even if the partners see a situation differently.

I thought compatibility was the most important attribute of a good marriage. A friend (pastor), recently told me that God made marriage partners not to be compatible with one another, but to complete one another.

I now believe that strong compatibility enables a couple to do greater good in life, but a strong commitment is sufficient to complete my spouse through our marriage. It takes three to make a marriage work, and thankfully, our Father is committed.”

~ Joel and Christine Huang

MarriageTeam Coaches