Lori R. Holyfield Attorney at Law

An Advocate Through Life's Transitions

The Good News and the Better News About Marital Conflict

I've got good news about conflict in marriage: every marriage has it.  At first blush, that seems like bad news, a marriage Debbie Downer...but it's actually good news, and here's why.  Conflict exists in ALL marriages, which means the existence of conflict in YOUR marriage doesn't necessarily mean anything is really wrong.  And really, facing disagreements is better for your relationship than avoiding them

Your grandma and grandpa who raised 5 kids and now, 50 years into this adventure we call marriage, happily drink coffee in their rocking chairs on the porch as the sun rises?  They lived through an incredible amount of conflict and didn't just survive - they thrived!  Your pastor's marriage, your parents' marriage, the marriage of Suzy Homemaker down the street - they all experience disagreements and frustration.

Even better news is that most marital conflicts are perpetual and don't get resolved.  Everything from how to load the dishwasher to how many children to have can be a source of unresolved disagreement.  This is good news because again, it means nothing is necessarily wrong with your marriage if you find yourselves up against a disagreement that never seems to end.  

Why, then, do some marriages cave in under the pressure of conflict while others flourish?  This is the best news.  It's not about whether you will have conflict (you will), and it's not about whether you can solve all your conflicts and live in a zen-like state of perfection (you can't).  It's about how you handle disagreements with your spouse.  

How can you handle conflict constructively?  You may fight, but you fight fair.  You respect your partner rather than hurling insults.  You listen to concerns rather than brushing them off.  You love rather than finding fault.  You see your partner as an equal and friend, rather than someone you can overpower or minimize.   You seek to repair conflict quickly rather than letting things fester.  You forgive and you move on.  

And you realize that having disagreements isn't a sign that you're not meant to be together.  It's a sign that you're both human and your marriage is normal...which is a good thing. 

Lori R. Holyfield focuses her practice in divorce and family law and serves Shelby, Tipton, and Fayette Counties in southwest Tennessee.

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