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Conflict as a Chance for Connection

Updated: May 15, 2023

I often find that couples will come into Christian marriage counseling with the stated goal of not wanting to have conflict. I must then gently remind them that life without conflict is not possible. If you’ve been in any relationship, romantic or otherwise, you know the truth that conflict is inevitable. Two people with distinct personalities, experiences, and beliefs cannot possibly agree on everything. Neither can they respond perfectly to each other at every moment.

Christian Marriage Counseling Can Teach You How to Have Conflict in Your Relationship

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The reality is that HOW you have conflict is more important than trying to eliminate it. Knowing that you and your partner can disagree and still find a connection with each other is liberating and connecting. Relationships, where conflict is always avoided, can feel fragile and disconnected. On the other hand, relationships where conflict leads to insults and explosive anger can be equally disconnecting and toxic. Learning, in Christian marriage counseling, to use communicate through conflict and use it as a point of connection is a powerful skill that can foster greater emotional intimacy and connection. So, you might be asking, how do we get there?

What To Do Before Conflict Begins

Nurture Your Relationship

Nurture your sense of connection outside conflict. Being friends with your spouse is incredibly important when you are considering how to develop your conflict resolution skills. Having fun together, knowing what is going on in each other’s lives, and feeling encouraged by your partner can all help develop intimacy for when things go wrong.

Strengthening the friendship aspect of your relationship helps you see your partner in a positive light. Even when they snap at the end of a long day of work or misspeak in an argument. By creating fondness for your partner, it is easier to give them the benefit of the doubt and feel safe in the relationship. In short, knowing that you like your partner and they like you makes conflict a little bit easier.

Provide Each Other With Support

Practice supporting each other in managing outside stresses. Let’s face it, being an adult is stressful and, sometimes, we just need to know that someone else is there for us. Especially without judgment or disdain. While some people process more internally than externally, we all need a place to vent. We also all know how it feels when we are trying to vent and the other person starts offering unsolicited advice.

I often tell couples in Christian marriage counseling that a lot of arguments could be avoided with the following question. “Do you want solutions or do you want me to just listen?”. This simple question communicates that you care about what your partner needs and that you are willing to be present and caring with their emotions. Creating a habit of checking in with each other builds the relational security that your partner is for you, supports you, and cares for you. When conflict does rear its head, knowing that your thoughts and feelings are welcome and you and your partner are a team against stress can make it just a bit easier.

What To Do During Conflict

First Thing To Do Is Identify Your Trigger

Remember that, sometimes, the emotions triggered by your spouse come from somewhere else. We’ve all been there: you’ve had an awful day and you get home and your husband or wife has forgotten to do the ONE thing they said they would. Suddenly, you’re overwhelmed and yelling or pouting and have no idea how you got there. Whether it is a bad day or childhood trauma, we all have sore spots that our partners will inevitably accidentally hit. When these sore spots get hit, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by emotion.

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This is where some personal responsibility kicks in. Your spouse is not a mind reader. They don’t know that the reason you feel so upset that the trash wasn’t taken out is that your boss has been talking down to you all day. Or that it reminds you of how your parents always broke their promises to you. Taking this step back and communicating your inner world is hard work. Depending on how deep the wounds are, it could be helpful to process with an individual Atlanta therapist. Noticing your trigger points and recognizing that your partner wasn’t the one that put them there can help you reengage with all the connecting work you have already done and realize that your partner is on your side, even when they mess up.

Then Take A Step Back

Take a break. Being able to pause, calm down, and self-soothe is absolutely essential before you reengage in the conflict. It is important to show up for your partner with empathy and care and also from a place of your own inner security. That can mean emotional regulation skills, reconnecting with God, or affirming that your partner is not the person that originally caused the hurt. A note: some partners may feel triggered by needing to take a break in the argument because of abandonment or rejection they have had in their own life. If this is you or your partner, affirm that you are taking the break because you want to reconnect and be able to fight fair.

Try To See Both Sides

Work to see conflicts from your partner’s perspective. I know, I know, we all like to be right. But being right only wins arguments, not relationships. When we only care about convincing our partners that we have the correct version of events or the right perspective, they become an enemy to battle against. Instead of your partner that you are tackling a problem alongside. Approaching disagreement with humility and seeking to understand the other person’s point of view, even if you don’t end up agreeing with it, is an important exercise we encourage in Christian Marriage Counseling to build empathy and connection.

Now For The Problem Solving

Now that you’ve self-soothed, understand each other’s perspectives, and met each other with empathy, you can finally begin problem-solving if the conflict is something that can be resolved. It's important to work towards a solution where both people are happy. Also, if at this point, one or both of you get emotionally escalated, it is okay to take another break! Remember, the point of going through this process is a greater emotional connection. The point is not to get through it as quickly as possible or win.

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What To Do After Conflict

Affirm what you enjoy about each other and celebrate that you were able to come together over a hard conversation. Focusing on the hard work that you did as a team can reaffirm your relationship.

Do something to reconnect and have fun!

Remember that you do not have to do this alone. Having a trusted friend, pastor, or relationship therapist can help walk you through this process. They can help you to find reconnection during and after a conflict.

Start Christian Marriage Counseling in Atlanta, GA

Embracing conflict in your relationship can be difficult. Learning how to handle conflict in a healthy manner doesn't have to be hard with the help of a caring therapist. During Christian marriage counseling you can build stronger communication skills. While also learning the tools needed to handle conflict. In order to get started at Remain Connected Counseling follow these simple steps.

  1. Schedule your first marriage counseling session at Remain Connected

  2. Start allowing conflict to build better communication in your relationship.

Other Therapy Services We Offer in Smyrna, GA

Our understanding and caring therapists offer several different types of mental health services. Such as EMDR, anxiety treatment, therapy for depression, and PTSD treatment. As well as teen counseling, Christian counseling, pastoral counseling, and therapy for stress. Can't make it into our Atlanta, GA-based therapy practice? That is okay we also offer online therapy in Georgia.

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