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Marriage is relationship based. And with all relationships, we find that conflict is, more often than not, inevitable. So it is with marriage. Each person in a marital relationship has had different life experiences, and undoubtedly, has different expectations of marriage and of their spouse. As a result, each person will react differently to whatever challenges occur.

Marital conflicts are not bad in themselves, rather, it is our response to the conflicts that can make or mar the relationship. Marital conflict can challenge us to grow into more mature persons and can either mature or destroy one’s marriage depending on how it is managed.

We often have the misconception that because marriage is built on love, romance and shared passion, that there should be no conflict at all. Far from it! Several things could result in conflict in marriage. We find that conflict usually occurs when:
1. There is lack of communication
2. There is a value conflict in which two people have different attitudes, beliefs and expectations.
3. There is a lack of effective leadership or decision-making
4. Unresolved prior conflict
5. There are discrepancies in role performance

Sources of Conflict include Money, Sex, In-laws, Child-rearing, Values, Perception.

Managing Conflict In Your Marriage

Please, do not think that when you have conflict, it implies that something is wrong with your marriage. You must constantly remind yourself that you and your spouse are on an incredible journey of building a lasting relationship. As such, you should always seek out ways to resolve your conflict and forge ahead.

Below are some tips to help.
1. Do not let little things that bother you build up until one of you explodes the issue into a large fight. That’s not fighting fair in your marriage.
2. If you are angry about something and don’t try to talk about it with your spouse within 48 hours, let it go. Otherwise, you are not fighting fair.
3. If your spouse doesn’t want to discuss the matter, set an appointment within the next 24 hours to have your fair fight. We need to defer to one another in the area of strength. God has brought us together to complement one another not to compete with each other.
4. Fighting fair means you both know what the issue is and both of you stick to the subject. It also means no name calling, which also adds that you don’t bring up past history and lastly, you don’t hit below the belt where it hurts.
5. Keep your fight between the two of you. Don’t bring in third parties like your in-laws, friends or children.
6. Do not fight in the presence of your children. In case you do, you owe them an apology. This is because children pick up on conflict and feel less secure when there are marriage problems. As a result, it is important to reassure them after arguing with a spouse.
7. Be open to asking for forgiveness and be willing to forgive. Even though it may be hard to forgive some offences, not forgiving can cause more harm both emotionally and physically (health-wise) to yourself and the marriage.
8. Do not yell, do not scream and do not talk in a threatening tone to your spouse.
9. Remember not to fight to win, rather, fight for your relationship
10. Conflict is not the problem. All married couples have disagreements. It is not knowing how to effectively argue that creates difficulty in marriage.

In conclusion, every marriage has times of conflicts and disagreement. However, to stay in marriage and equally enjoy it, you must learn to be a forgiver. If possible, forgive upfront whatever offence your spouse makes. In marriage, your love, commitment, integrity and loyalty will be tested. But your resolve to make your marriage work through forgiveness will help you sail through the stormy waters and wade through the boisterous winds and land you safely at a beautiful shore.

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