Disagreements between Married Couples : Causes And Cure

Disagreements or Conflict is common to all marriages, and the sources of disagreement listed below may not surprise you. As you read them, however, consider which ones apply to you and your spouse.


1. Money

This cause of conflict represents a lot of stuff, namely control, power and trust. I have counseled many couples where one mate has misused their money and the broken trust is just as severe as in an affair.

Money is options. When there is a lot of it, the options are more. When it is tight, the options are short and the stress can be long. It is why I share with engaged couples to go easy on the debt, especially early on. The first months (and years) of any marriage are stressful enough from the normal adjustments that need to be made. Don’t add to the stress with early debt.

2. Kids

Just a few of the sources of conflict that are kid-related:

How to discipline them
How much to discipline them (“You want to ground them for  how long???”)
Running them (and parents) ragged because they are on some team playing on some little league treadmill year-round
Parents actually vying in competition for their kids’ approval. (Warped, but all too prevalent.)
3. Intimacy

Married couples argue with each other about many sex-related issues including frequency, further stressing the marriage. Unfortunately all too often this gift can become a source of stress and conflict.

4. Work

Working long hours
Too much work-related travel
Not making enough in current job. (See #1)
5. In-laws

One of the most sensitive areas because it’s about family. Leaving and cleaving is sometimes easier said than done.

6. Time commitments

Overbooking can happen subtly. Then you look around and find yourself drowning in commitments. Calendar time to come up for air, reconnect. An annual retreat can help you plan those times. Without it you can feel lost and out of control, almost guaranteeing more stress and conflict.

7.Past relationship issues

Social media often provides the opportunity to reunite with old friends, including “dear” old friends. Watch this situation like a hawk. If there are any issues here – any issues – unfriend or close out the account(s) and move on. This is not a time to defend your old “we’re just friends” flame from yesteryear. You can have a life without social media, and it needs to happen if it is straining the trust in your marriage. No brainer, get an offline life and rebuild some trust.

8. Misunderstanding

This cause is often born from unclear communication. Sometimes it is an honest mistake, but confusion and unclarity breed many an argument. The classic and simple help here is to seek to understand precisely what your mate said. We live in a world of vague terms that contain many meanings. Tell your mate what you heard her say. It is a powerful line. Use it.

9. Unrealistic expectations

Let’s get real people. Neither you nor your mate are perfect. Let that soak into your head and your heart. Learn to love truly your mate – blemishes and all – and treat them accordingly.

10. Stern Talk

Examples would be:

Sarcasm, manipulative behavior
Cheap shots fired at your spouse in public with a smile on your face. Your spouse does not see it as funny. Everyone awkwardly laughs with you but no one is comfortable.
Lack of respect
No kindness
Seek to eliminate stern talk from your marriage. It benefits no one.


6 Steps Couples Should Take Toward Settling Disagreements

While many couples don’t like to always admit it, conflict and disagreements are common in most marriages.

But how each couple focuses on settling disagreements can cause a marriage to thrive or dive. Assuming that most married couples want their marriages to thrive, we would like to bring to your attention ‘six skills of conflict management’ which are perfect for settling disagreements.

According to Dr Gottman, if we can all develop these skills, during times of conflict or potential conflict we will be settling disagreements in no time at all.

We might even find ourselves eliminating conflict entirely and just settling disagreements that arise naturally from two individuals who might have differing opinions without raising our voices.

Now that would be great, wouldn’t it?

6 steps to eliminating marital conflict and settling disagreements-

1. Soften startup

Who would have thought that a small strategy like this would have such strong benefits!

Thinking about how you start the conversation with your spouse about whatever it is that you disagree with, according to Gottman a discussion is a crucial factor for settling disagreements.

Gottman claims that his studies have proven that conversations always end in the same tone that they have begun in.  So if you start a conversation abruptly, you can expect to finish it off abruptly too.

The tone of our voice, our body language and the way that we start to raise the issues we need to.

2.  Accept influence

When both spouses can accept that their spouse will influence them, then good things happen!  However, when it comes to settling disagreements (or failing to settle them), this key skill is missing in most relationships.

In a sense, accepting influence is all about letting go of selfishness.  It’s about focusing on ‘we’ instead of ‘me.’

In a disagreement, if you can avoid looking at how something is influencing you as a person, and think of it as a team, it helps to promote empathy, compassion, and support in any situation.

When you are accepting influence and working as a team, you listen to the needs of each other, discuss them and support them. You are in it together, and this is considered highly important in the steps to successfully settling disagreements.

3. Make effective repairs during a conflict

We all receive love differently, and so there are times of conflict that require a little effort to diffuse the problem and to repair the problem, another key skill in settling disagreements.

If you are in a stalemate situation with your spouse over a topic that keeps on rearing its ugly head, think about why your spouse might be so stubborn or reluctant to compromise and think about how else it could be resolved.

For example, your spouse might hate taking the dog out for a walk, but wouldn’t mind picking up a different responsibility instead, and you would be happy to take the dog for a walk.  Or perhaps you both hate that responsibility of dog walking, so you split something else and then both go on a dog walk together.

These are acts of repairing conflict and finding an alternative solution that works for you.

We don’t always have to lock horns on everything, the art of settling disagreements lies in compromise and in finding a way around a situation for the benefit of everybody involved.

4. De-escalate

We could say that all of the skills and steps listed above are de-escalation strategies.

Wherever possible it’s important to remain focused on de-escalating a problem instead of fuelling the fire.

Do this, and you’ll be successfully settling disagreements in no time at all.  Based on Dr. Gottman’s analysis:

I Feel

§  I am getting scared

§  Please say that more gently

§  That felt like an insult

§  I don’t feel like you are understanding me right now

I Need to Calm Down

§  I just need this to be calmer right now

§  Can I take that back?

§  I need your support right now

§  Can we take a break?


§  Let me try again

§  I’m sorry

§  I really messed up, I can see my part in this

§  I want to say this more gently but I don’t know how

I Appreciate

§  I know that this isn’t your fault

§  Thank you for

§  I understand

§  I love you

5. Psychological soothing of self and partner

Self-soothing strategies are always useful when it comes to settling disagreements successfully.

There are times when you might feel as though you are not getting anywhere and are becoming emotionally overwhelmed in a conflicting situation.

It’s at these times that you probably need to take a break (a good self-soothing strategy) and take some time out to calm yourself down and find your equilibrium again.

Whether you go for a run, meditate, pull out some weeds in the garden or scrub the kitchen table a little heavily –  finding the right kind of self-soothing strategies to help you balance yourself out will help you successfully settle disagreements even if you don’t get it done as quickly as you might have liked.

When you are both in a better place, encouraging your spouse to use this principle too and respecting their needs when they need to self-soothe will create a harmonious environment even when negotiations are still taking place.

6. Compromise

This last skill for conflict resolution  needs no explanation.

It’s probably safe to assume that we all need to compromise occasionally, so if you can make compromise a staple in your marriage, you’ll be one step closer to setting disagreements.

So, now solving these It also means doing good. Sometimes doing good simply takes a few words spoken gently and kindly, or perhaps a touch, a hug, or a pat on the shoulder. It might mean making a special effort to please your spouse by performing a special act of kindness.

Finally, being a blessing means seeking peace, actually pursuing it. When you eagerly seek to forgive, you are pursuing oneness, not isolation.

God’s purpose in our conflicts is to test our faith, to produce endurance, to refine us, and to bring glory to Himself. This is the hope He gives us—that we can actually approach our conflicts as an opportunity to strengthen our faith and to glorify God.

Every couple has ups and downs, every couple argues, and that’s the thing you’re a couple, and couples can’t function without trust. I believe that two people are connected at the heart, and it doesn’t matter what you do, or who you are or where you live; there are no boundaries or barriers if two people are destined to be together.

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand. The first duty of love is to listen. So, cut that disagreement short and LISTEN !

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