How to have healthy conflicts

5 min
Nicky and Sila Lee
Authors of The Marriage Book

How to have healthy conflicts

Nicky and Sila Lee, authors of The Marriage Book, understand that there are times in marriage when things can get pretty stressful. Some of us get heated and loud (that’s Sila) and others can retreat and go quieter (that’s Nicky). Some people under stress and pressure become moody and sulky and they may give their partner the silent treatment.

Here are five tips they’ve discovered that are important for staying calm and connected under pressure.

Tip 1: Be careful with your words.

This may well involve exercising patience. In Sila’s case, when she feels misunderstood or feels that Nicky is not listening to her, she can just explode and say things she later regrets. So for her, going into another room and counting to 10 really helps her to tell Nicky more calmly what she feels really passionately about.

Tip 2: Ask, “What are you finding most difficult about our situation?”

Then listen to your partner’s answer. Reflect back to them what they’ve said to be sure you’ve understood and for them to know that you’ve understood them. Understanding each other is much more important than agreeing with each other and we only understand our partner by really listening to them. At times, we can easily feel like we’ve just got to battle on alone. But listening draws us together at an emotional level. We no longer feel alone and when we are worried or upset about something, we have to remember to tell our partner about it. That can take real courage – especially if we are prone to retreating – but we always feel so much better afterwards and able to see the issue in a much clearer perspective.

Tip 3: Ask each other regularly, how can I help you?

That’s what exercising kindness looks like. And, typically, when we’re under stress, we think about what we need and wonder why our partner isn’t helping us. But when we turn it around and ask each other, “How can I help you?”, it makes a huge difference to the whole situation that we’re in.

Tip 4: Put the issue in front of you.

When you’re having a disagreement, take the issue from between you and put it out in front of you, and then discuss the issue rather than attacking each other. Listen to what each of you feels about this issue and look for solutions.

Now, if for example, the disagreement is around who does what in your home, the solution may be to divide up the chores in a whole new way. And you may surprise yourself. Nicky took on doing the laundry and found he really enjoys it!

Tip 5: Say thank you.

The final tip is to remember to say thank you to each other, even for very small acts of kindness or consideration, such as, “Thanks for letting me use your charger this morning”, or “Thanks for making breakfast”. Grateful words will dramatically affect our attitude towards each other and towards our whole situation. And they will change the atmosphere in our home.