How to resolve disagreement in marriage
Adapted by Nina Chen, Ph.D., Human Development Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
Even happy, healthy marriages involve some conflict from time to time. Conflict is a normal part of sharing life with someone else. Although couples experience conflicts, many of them are successful and happy in their marriages. The key is to know how to deal with disagreement and conflict in a constructive way. These steps can help:
- Set a specific time to work on the problem. It is very important to discuss problems when both spouses can mentally and emotionally prepare. Writing down the problem before discussion can help focus on specific issues.
- Listen to the other person's point of view. Listen to each other and allow both sides to explain and express feelings without interruption. Avoiding making judgments or trying to be a mind reader. Showing respect for each other’s point of view helps both spouses realize the other is trying to keep the marriage working. Clear, direct communication can help you understand each other better.
- Identify solutions. Brainstorm solutions to the problem together. Don't criticize the other person's input. This process requires compromise and negotiation. Exploring as many solutions as possible helps find a solution that both will accept.
- Decide on a mutually acceptable solution. After listing the proposed solutions, evaluate each solution and choose one that may solve the problem. When evaluating the solutions, discuss the possible implementation and outcomes. A list of pros and cons of each solution can help identify steps and outcomes. If both spouses still disagree, discuss the reasons and options until both agree to try one solution. Open communication and mutual sharing and respect can help prevent feelings of rejection and promote growth.
- After implementing the solution, both need to discuss whether the problem is being solved. If not, continue discussion and make the adjustments needed to make it work. Try to focus on options that both spouses can help with and learn to accept things that cannot change.
For more information, refer to the MU Extension publication Creating a Strong and Satisfying Marriage.
Last Updated 10/17/2011