Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, and it occurs for any number of reasons. Out of the top ten marriage fights reported, the heaviest hitters are money, communication, and children. Right now, you are probably thinking, “Yep, you hit the nail on the head.” Although it may seem like I am hammering in the right direction, the root problem often lies elsewhere, our expectations.
The truth is that our “expectations” often lie beneath the surface of many of conflicts in marriage. Sometimes, it is the reason that we have some of our biggest disagreements. We can end up irritated when the expectations don’t match up with our spouse. Then, it can lead to a rumble.
Where do the expectations come from?
Marriage is the blending of two individuals. We each enter relationships with a unique set of ideas. Sometimes, we establish them from our upbringing. Some we develop as we grow into adulthood. However it happens, we establish priorities. Then, we carry those into the union and sometimes attempt to impose them on the other.
Be realistic about it
Have expectations, but be realistic about it. Chances are, your spouse has differing priorities in some areas. It can be easy to become irritated when they do not “measure up” to what you had in mind. Remember that they are not you, and that is a good thing!
Assuming your partner thinks or reacts like you can create substantial friction in a relationship. Over time, it can wear on intimacy and even hinder sex in marriage. If you are struggling to accomplish setting realistic expectations, seeking marriage help might be beneficial.
Communicate BEFORE it combusts!
There it is again…communication skills in marriage. It won’t be the last you have heard of it. Building healthy communication skills is essential to resolve a conflict. Keep the lines of communications open and flowing freely. Talk about any unmet or unrealistic expectations. Then, listen. Listening Matters and is the lubricant for healthy communication in marriage.
“It is not what you say, but HOW you say it.”
Your approach matters! Address a conflict in a way that promotes growth in the relationship. Always discuss unmet, or unrealistic, expectations before reaching the boiling point. Dealing with it when you are calm allows you to communicate the issue without tearing down your spouse in the heat of the moment.
We cannot avoid having conflicts or expectations in relationships. However, we can use them to build our marriages. If you need help developing these skills, consider attending marriage retreats, Christian marriage conferences, or seeking a relationship coach.