Saturday, 21 October 2017

Resolving conflicts in marriage

By Hannah Awadzi
I ONCE attended a wedding where the pastor preached on dealing with conflicts in the marriage. He emphasised, among other things, the fact that when two people with different backgrounds and values live together there are bound to be differences.

Conflicts are bound to arise between married couples and there is always the need to have a conflict resolution plan when it happens.
Marriage is different from what we use to read in the story books, which normally has the ending - “and they lived happily ever after”. In the real life situations, to live happily ever after requires huge levels of commitment from both the man and the woman.
To be able to live happily ever after means a daily high dose of love, forgiveness, commitment with the spouse no matter the level of misunderstanding, you need to keep the communication lines open.
Let me quickly say that every marriage you see, no matter how beautiful it looks, has problems or challenges - the only difference between the ones that end in divorce and the ones that do not is simply a commitment by the parties involved to make it work.
Conflicts in marriages are caused by many factors - managing finances, sex, parenting issues, in-laws, public opinion, jealousy, envy and the list goes on. However, one thing that can help resolve conflict no matter the cause is understanding between the two parties and also communication.
I believe in pre-marital counseling, it helps couples see the possible areas of conflict and discuss them even before they get started. Mind you, it does not mean issues will not come up m- they definitely will - but with pre-knowledge of possible areas of conflict, one is able to handle conflicts better.
Knowing and accepting that there is a bone of contention that needs to be resolved is usually the first step. Remember, we are dealing with two different people with different upbringing, ideologies and concepts about life.
I believe that marriage helps to improve the tolerance levels of the individual. In marriage, you learn to tolerate, you learn to build your patience and you learn to accept differences.
I used to frown at the idea not to discuss marriage issues with a third party. I do not believe in ‘polish on dirt’ or what others term as ‘outside gentility, home cry’. I am a firm believer in seeking help and seeking it professionally.
But I have come to understand that in marriage, conflict resolution depends mainly on the two parties; a third party may not understand your issues as much as the two individuals involved do.
Couples may not be able to talk about the issues as it is to a third party, especially if it bothers on intimacy and the third party you are talking to has an ideology different from yours.
A couple shared an experience of how a pastor/marriage counselor duped them and caused more confusion in their marriage rather than helping them resolve the conflict.
According to the couple, the supposed pastor and marriage counselor first charged them in dollars for an online generated personality test, saying that test would help them understand themselves and resolve all conflicts in their marriage.
After gaining grounds in their marriage, he managed to speak to them individually, giving false information about the husband to the wife and vice-versa. All this while, he charged extra for every meeting he had with them and told them not to discuss what he had been discussing with them individually.
It went on for some time before they realised that the man was actually fake, he actually earned his living by posing as a marriage counselor and continued to cause confusion in your marriage so that you would continue to pay for his services.
As much as there may be times when one may need mediation in marital issues, I think that the two individuals involved in the marriage are the best to resolve issues that cause conflict.
Conflict resolution in marriage may take time, sometimes it may even end in divorce, but as I said earlier, it is solely dependent on the individuals involved.
One other ingredient, that I have not talked about but is of paramount importance in helping resolve conflict in marriage, is prayer.
Remember the originator of marriage? My Bible tells me God is the originator of marriage so I can only advice married couples to always go back to the originator for the manual.
Having a beautiful marriage life absolutely depends on YOU and YOU only.
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