5 Benefits of Understanding Each Other’s Conflict Style

This article first appeared on iMom.com. You can view the original post here.

Earlier this year, my husband and I were honored to be asked to be a sort of mentor couple for friends who were engaged. We’d meet twice a month, and they’d ask us whatever they wanted about marriage and family life. Most of the time, these sessions made me feel pretty good about our marriage. Then the couple asked us how we handled conflict in marriage. My husband’s immediate response was that “we don’t.”I was shocked, embarrassed, and confused. But as my husband explained his response, I realized he was right. We did in fact avoid conflict because we didn’t know how to fight well. But if you want to learn to fight, you need to learn each other’s conflict styles—the things you do during arguments and what they really mean. Here are 5 benefits of understanding each other’s style of conflict in marriage.

1. Problems will actually get resolved.

Earlier in my marriage, when my husband and I disagreed, I would shut down at the first show of anger and then avoid him for hours. He was used to parents who fought loudly; I was not. Because I was so quick to shut down, we very rarely argued, but we also never resolved our problems. I didn’t understand that raised voices were a normal part of my husband’s conflict style; he didn’t realize he was scaring me. Arguments don’t necessarily lead to resolutions, but if each spouse knows how the other fights, you’ll be able to identify the crux of the matter and find resolutions more effectively.

2. You’ll know what to expect.

Once you know how you and your husband differ, you can create a conflict management method that works for both of you. For instance, I need to process things alone before discussing them with my husband, so I like to go for a walk when conflicts arise. Before I told him this, my husband didn’t know what I was doing. He thought I was running away, and it hadn’t occurred to me that my husband didn’t know I needed to collect my thoughts by myself. Now, in an argument, my husband knows I will go for a walk to process my thoughts, and then we’re both prepared to approach the issue together when I get back.

3. You’ll feel respected.

Knowing your differences in approaching conflict can help you both to fight fair and respect each other. When I left the house during a fight, my husband took it as a sign of disrespect. He thought I didn’t care. I didn’t mean to hurt him with my actions, but it happened anyway because he didn’t understand the reason for my actions. Similarly, many women cry when they’re upset, and husbands might wrongly assume that their wives are trying to manipulate them. If both spouses know how the other approaches conflict, you can fight fairly and know that no one is intentionally trying to hurt or disrespect you.

4. Fights will be shorter.

Tensions will dissolve more quickly if you’re familiar with each other’s conflict styles. If you’ve established a method for accommodating different ways of fighting, you’ll be able to skip unnecessary frustrations and move right to addressing the problem. Usually, if I left the house during a fight, my husband would not be waiting for me when I returned. Because of that fact, sometimes it took us days to fix things. Now that he knows how I handle conflict, I know he’ll be waiting for me so we can resolve the situation immediately. Couples who understand each other’s conflict style can create the best environment for healthy confrontation, allowing them to move beyond certain hang-ups and get straight to the point.

5. You’ll grow closer as a couple.

Knowing each other’s conflict styles will encourage you and your husband to grow closer together. I once heard a married woman say that conflict is meant to unite couples. I couldn’t help but think to myself, No, conflict pulls couples apart. But she was right. Couples argue because spouses want the other to share their opinion. They want to see eye to eye. If you understand each other’s conflict styles, you can create unity more easily. Sharing an intimate part of yourself with your husband requires vulnerability, and the more fully couples understand each other, the more united they’ll become.

How the Rule of 1 Can Refresh Your Marriage

When my husband and I were preparing for marriage, the priest assisting us suggested that we commit to one date night out a month. He admitted that it could be hard and a bit expensive because of babysitters, but he was adamant that it would be worth it. And he was right. We needed those nights out of the house.

But they weren’t enough on their own. Over the past seven years, we have gradually created the “Rule of One.” This rule recognizes that couples need to reconnect regularly if they want their marriage to be healthy and happy. Monthly dates alone aren’t going to cut it—a lot can happen in a month, and you just can’t leave it all to be hashed out during your date night. Take a look at the three parts of the Rule of One to see how they will help you refresh your marriage.

5 Things Your Teens Have in Common With Toddlers

“What would you do if your daughter screamed ‘I hate you!’ and stormed out the door?” a mom of a 3-year-old asked me. I thought back to the countless moms of teens who had asked me that same question when I was a youth minister. My answer for the toddler mom was the same as it had been for the moms of teens—I’d let her vent outside, but then bring her in. I’d acknowledge her feelings of frustration and anger, but then remind her of the house rules. The only difference here was that I didn’t need to warn that mom to hide her keys if her kid has a history of taking off in the family car. Luckily for all of us, toddlers don’t drive.

I have been both a youth minister to teens and a mom to toddlers, and I still can’t get over the similarities. Parenting toddlers is tough; so is raising teens. But the good news? The toddler years are a phase that passed, and the teen years will pass, too. Plus, you can use some of the same tactics again now that you used when your children were toddlers. Just consider these 5 things your teens have in common with toddlers.

What to Say to a Teen Who Wants to Be the Popular Kid

I never told my mom that I wanted to be popular, but I’m sure my actions spoke louder than words. I remember being 14 and crying as I threw out my favorite red t-shirt. Why would I do such a thing? Because a popular kid had commented that the shirt made me look like a boy. I loved that shirt, but I thought I loved being popular more. I spent years trying to be like the cool kids, but I wasn’t really happy until I tried being myself instead.

In my time working with teens, I met many kids who made all sorts of sacrifices in the quest to become popular. I knew that if I could see those changes, their parents had to notice them, too. So if you confront your teens and they tell you they want to be the popular kid, here are 5 questions you can ask to get them to open up.

4 Ways to Squash Mean Girl Tendencies in Your Daughter

My daughter’s a natural leader. She’s charming and charismatic, and at just 3 years old, she’s already collected a little posse around her. Right now, she’s sweet and innocent, but as I watch her, I can’t help but wonder: Is this the beginning of a mean girl? What are the telltale signs your daughter is a mean girl?

She has so many of the characteristics of your typical “mean girl” but with none of the actual meanness. How can I be sure she’ll grow up to have empathy, humility, and kindness rather than being controlling, manipulative, and arrogant? If you have a daughter and you want her to stay away from these tendencies, too, try these 4 tips to avoid creating a “mean girl.”

5 Good Attitudes to Bring to Your Marriage

Several years ago, I was having dinner with a friend who recounted the tale of a wedding ceremony he had attended. The couple had written their own vows, which included the line “for as long as our love shall last.” My friend was shocked—sure, about 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, but most marriages don’t begin with that end in mind. And yet here we are.

If we want healthy and happy marriages, we can’t approach the altar with such a negative attitude. We need to hold onto and cultivate good mindsets that will allow our marriages to flourish. Here are 5 good attitudes in marriage that will lead to growth, appreciation, and long-lasting love.

Should I Make My Teen _____________?

When I was a youth minister, I had more than one parent approach me to talk about a defiant teen. Many teens go through a rebellious phase. They crave freedom and independence, and they often reject the traditions of their parents for the practices of their friends. So what do you do? Can a parent force a child to do something he or she doesn’t want to do? No. But parents can spend time and energy trying.

When counseling parents about their teens, I often suggest that they pick their battles carefully. Sometimes you need to stand your ground, and sometimes you need to let go. The question you have to ask is this: “Should I try to make them do this or might this be a battle not worth fighting?” Here are 5 situations you’ll probably face with your teen and whether to force or be flexible.