Help! My Spouse Doesn't Like to Deal with Conflict!
What is the best thing to do when your spouse doesn't want to talk about your conflicts or their feelings or thoughts about it. What if they just want to run away and ignore it as if there is no conflict at all?
One couple we know had this same problem, but found a very creative way to solve it.
The wife usually wanted to address any conflict as soon as it came up. However, her husband felt overwhelmed by their conflict and wanted to avoid talking about it. He said she would bring up issue after issue after issue, and he just began to feel overwhelmed and would shut down. She ended up feeling ignored and disconnected from him.
So, they agreed to set up a time up to discuss their conflicts. Three days before their appointment, she would email him one or two issues only that they would talk about when they got back together. She would outline her perspective and feelings about the issue. This allowed her to feel that they weren’t ignoring their problems by sweeping them under the rug. This gave him the “gift of time” as an internal processor to think about her comments and to figure out how he felt about them without feeling attacked or backed into a corner.
As a result, this arrangement made it much more manageable for him. By doing this, it helped him:
- better understand where his wife was coming from and how she felt about it
- feel like the situation was a little more predictable
- sooth his feelings of anxiety and being out of control
- allowed him time to pray, figure out his own perspective and how he felt about it
- determine what a healthy, honoring response might be
Now, they “fight” a lot less and actually look forward to their next appointment because afterwards, they feel much more heard by one another, understood, connected and emotionally close. This was a win-win solution for this couple.
Christopher Grace serves as the director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships and teaches psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology. He and his wife, Alisa, speak regularly to married couples, churches, singles and college students on the topic of relationships, dating and marriage. Grace earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Colorado State University.
Alisa Grace ('92) serves as the co-director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships where she also co-teaches a class called "Christian Perspectives on Marriage and Relationships." While she speaks and blogs regularly on topics such as dating relationships, marriage, and love, she also loves mentoring younger women and newly married couples, speaking at retreats and providing premarital counseling. Alisa and her husband, Chris, have been married over 30 years and have three wonderful children: Drew and his wife Julia, Natalie and her husband Neil, and their youngest blessing, Caroline.