Every married couple experiences conflict in their marriage from time to time. None of us want to face difficult situations with our spouse, but conflict and disagreements are part of life.
Because many of us would prefer to avoid conflict, we fall into a habit of pushing our problems further and further down the line. Whatever our reasons, it’s clear that fear plays a hand in our avoidance.
The problem is, avoiding hard discussions and conflict resolution with your spouse actually makes problems worse and harder to overcome. Let’s take a look at five reasons why you shouldn’t wait to resolve a conflict with your spouse.
1. You make up stories in your head.
It’s easy to fill in the blanks for your spouse when you’re not communicating about a problem. Left to our own devices, we can easily create narratives in our own heads that explain our spouse’s behavior or the problem at hand. But that doesn’t mean we’re drawing the correct conclusions.
If you haven’t yet asked for your spouse’s motivations or point of view, it’s important to do so–before you begin deciding that you have the entire story. Getting a problem out in the open is much healthier and more constructive than getting invested in a story that isn’t true.
2. Emotions get blown out of proportion.
When we create our own narratives around an unresolved conflict, our emotions associated with the story grow. Resentment, anger, disappointment, and hurt rise from a problem left unresolved, and eventually, you won’t be able to mask your feelings.
Living in truth and authenticity with your spouse means that it’s best to let them know, sooner rather than later, that you’re upset about something. Otherwise, you may soon boil over and say or do things you regret.
3. The situation drags out longer than necessary.
Spouses often put off conflict resolution out of fear. It’s painful to have hard conversations with your husband or wife, and it can take time away from your normal routine. So, in the name of preserving routine, we often avoid the conversations for too long. By default, that means the conflict goes on for longer than it has to (or should).
In life, how we choose to use our time is of utmost importance to our work, our goals, and our relationships. If you choose to let valuable time pass before resolving a problem with your spouse, we can guarantee you will lose valuable time during the resolution process.
4. The risk of deep hurt is higher.
If you and your spouse have a long-standing, unresolved conflict, the chances of being hurtful to one another rise with the passing time. Chances are, you and your spouse are both harboring some strong feelings about the situation–or even toward one another. When these feelings come out, it can be all to easy to hurt one another deeply in the process of uncovering them.
5. The conflict is, ultimately, harder to overcome.
The best time to deal with a problem is when it begins–or as early as possible afterward. Letting a conflict fester, then explode, means you could easily hurt one another. When hurt and pain extend beyond the initial conflict, this season will be much more difficult to overcome.
Tackling hard conversations and resolving conflicts in marriage requires great courage. The good news is, the sooner you deal with the problems you’re facing, the sooner you can move past them.
There will be times when you’ll need to wait for a short period of time before you discuss a conflict. Appropriate timing is just as important as not putting off important discussions. But the bottom line is, you shouldn’t let a hurt fester unchecked between the two of you.
Next week, we’ll share some tips for healthy conflict resolution to show you how to get started.
How do you and your spouse handle conflict? Why? Let us know in the comments!