Conflict is a natural part of any long-term relationship. Even in the courtship stage, when everyone is trying to impress each other, arguments will arise. Fail to respond to a check-in text after a late night out, and you may become subject to some silent treatment the following day.
Disputes can arise from seemingly harmless oversights to fundamental differences in managing finances or how each partner handles the pressures of life. Regardless of the source of the conflict or how long the fighting has gone on, there is a way to restore the peace.
Here are some common areas where couples may find themselves differing and some tips on how to restore harmony in the home.
1. What’s Mine is Yours
When two individuals enter into a lifetime union, the lines of ownership become blurred. One partner may feel that they are entitled to everything the other partner owns, while the other may feel that there should be some boundaries.
You could have planned to go grocery shopping with the car only to find she took it out with her girlfriends for a day. While you may have paid for the car and therefore feel your usage of it should be prioritized, your wife may see things differently. What could be a potential hot button for conflict can be avoided if ownership boundaries for various items are agreed upon and established.
What happens when a career opportunity presents itself to your partner that will entail a move from where you’re currently settled? The decision to move may be easy if you’re a telecommuter and there are no kids in the picture, but what if you work near where you live and hold a position of high responsibility in your workplace?
You may be reluctant to start over in a new location or take the kids out of their current school. Your partner may think you’re being selfish for not supporting their career. Finding common ground in such scenarios can be difficult, but it is possible. Let your partner know you’re happy for them and fully welcome the new opportunity.
Next, have an open discussion on the pros and cons of moving and thrash out possible solutions. Can you apply for a transfer or seek a remote working option to facilitate your partner’s move? Or is either option available to your partner without jeopardizing the opportunity?
Money is a huge sticking point in many relationships. Experts say about a fifth of what couples argue about is money-related issues. The conflict will often be about one partner spending or wanting to spend on something that the other feels are frivolous.
Another occasion in which money can cause tension in a relationship is when one partner feels they’re shouldering more than their fair share of the financial burden. Unaired feelings of mistrust could also arise when one partner feels the other is not being completely open about what they earn.
Open dialogue is the solution to most forms of conflict, including those that have to do with money. As early as you can in the relationship, openly discuss how much each partner is bringing to the table. Create a budget based on your combined income so that you can identify areas to improve your financial health together.
4. Big Life Decisions
When you have common financial goals, it will be easier to agree on some of the major life decisions couples are faced with from time to time. Which schools to take the kids to or whether to buy a house are decisions that have an unavoidable money angle. But this is not the only potential source of conflict when such decisions loom.
The values each of you hold dear will determine whether you will agree or clash. One partner may not want to discuss preparing for death, while the other feels it wise to do so. They may be checking out SelectQuote life insurance for products that can fit their budget while their partner shuns the idea altogether.
Explaining your point of view to your partner, so you each empathize with the other’s values can bring on a consensus when making such decisions.
Which family you will spend the holidays with can easily become a source of conflict. In-law visits can be particularly trying for couples. Your mother may express a point of view your spouse disagrees with, and you may find yourself caught in the middle.
Seeking areas of compromise and empathy in such in-law conflicts is important in cases where your in-laws express opinions that clash with the values you hold dear and seek to create respectful boundaries.
The Silver Bullet
The silver bullet for most, if not all, relational disputes is communication. Talking about how you feel about habits, ideas or decisions will ensure both partners are clear on how the other feels. You can then work towards arriving at a common understanding.