Marriage Vs. Solving Conflict

by | May 20, 2024 | Marriage, Marriage Prep, Parenting, Society

Approximately 70% of marital conflicts are unsolvable: learn how to manage them.

Conflict in marriage is bound to happen. Have you ever talked to a couple that’s been married for 30 years? I know a few of them, my parents included. It seems a lot of younger couples enter marriage with rose-colored glasses. We see our whole lives as potential to build the “perfect relationship” with no issues or conflicts. The truth is couples who have been married 30 years actually have the same problems they did after 30 days.

Marriage and divorce researcher, Dr. John Gottman, has spent decades studying thousands of couples’ marital habits. He has determined approximately 70% of spousal conflict stems from “unsolvable conflict.” These conflicts result from personality differences, preferences, and habits that are not easily changed. He recommends against trying to constantly “solve” conflict. The perfect marriage doesn’t involve concluding our conflicts, but managing them.

We married our spouse for a reason.

No amount of time or effort will ever turn my husband into a finicky organizer. That’s my contribution to our lives. In addition, nothing will make me abandon all scheduling to go with the flow. That’s his personality. But, in our three years of marriage, we have both surrendered our control to the other. First, I have helped my husband become a better planner and in addition, he has helped me relax about to-do lists. Together, we are building a patient, easy-going, but still reasonable organized life for our children. Without me, hardly anything would get done; in addition, without Joshua, we’d hardly ever relax.

No one marries someone who is exactly like them. We marry people who are complementary. Thus, everyone looks for someone who fills their gaps. Inevitably, we end up with someone who conflicts with us approximately 70% of the time. The truth is that’s not a bad thing! Consequently, our fundamental personality differences mean we’re not locked into one way of doing everything. We’re able to adapt to what our circumstances need with our spouse. We all marry our spouse for a reason: and it’s not because they’re the same as us.

Choose your 70% wisely.

When considering marriage, it’s always good to ask yourself: can I live with this forever? From differences in diets, cleaning habits, religion, politics, family planning, hobbies, we need to prepare for forever. People change, but it is unwise to count on change. The fact is our core differences will likely stay for the long haul. They will be 70% of unsolvable conflict: the conflict that results from differences so extreme they can only be managed. The key with the 70% is there is no cut and dry answer to the conflict. No one is right all the time. It’s a matter of when to trust your spouse and when to lead your spouse.

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Michelle C. Martin

Michelle graduated from Texas Tech University with her husband, Joshua, in May 2021 and married him in June on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She has a degree in Communication Studies and has loved growing in knowledge of healthy and authentic relationships during her time in college and adulthood. Michelle and Joshua currently reside in Lubbock, TX where he works as an architect and she loves life as a stay-at-home wife and mother to their children, Peter and Cecilia.

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