Why do you and your spouse fight? Most couples seem to fight about the same things or the same kind of things. There are two basic reasons why I think we do that. The number one reason is that the issue or issues are not resolved. Nancy and I were really good at this in the early years of marriage. We would fight about something, not talk to each other for a couple of days, start missing each other, reconnect, and never talk about the issue. Then, inevitably, the issue would surface again in a few weeks. Part of our problem was that we had no idea how to resolve conflict. When couples fight the same battle over and over and never resolve it, it takes a toll.
How do you break that cycle? This is what we learned and what has worked for us well over the years:
Find a time to talk that is good for both of you—without distractions!
Define the problem. Make sure you are on the same page with what you are trying to solve.
Each of you share how you think you have contributed to the problem. (Take personal responsibility.)
Brainstorm solutions. You can be serious but also have a little fun with this step.
Pick one solution to try. Define what each of you is to do.
Give it a week or so and then get back together to evaluate.
Then (this is my favorite part) celebrate your success!
The other reason we fight over the same things is there might be a payoff of some kind from the conflict. In other words, the payoff, whatever it is, is more important to one or both spouses than solving the problem. For example, one spouse may place a high value on the importance of winning. Solving the problem, then, would take away the payoff. If you are fighting with your spouse in order to receive a payoff, the conflict will end only when you make the decision to place your spouse and your marriage above the payoff. This is tough for some people, as it requires a huge mindset change. But when you begin to see the change in yourself, in your spouse, and ultimately in your marriage, you receive a different and even better payoff—one that honors God.
So whether you find yourself at reason one or reason two, it is time to break the cycle, isn’t it? What will be your first step? Now do it!