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.