Most people think that "happily ever after" means no disagreements or discord. The truth is, sometimes, the best way to save a marriage is to fight through it - literally
Because of the fairy-tale wishful-thinking society in which we live, most people believe that, to save a marriage, a relationship needs to be totally harmonious, with no contention, arguments or fighting whatsoever.
The truth is, those seemingly peaceful marriages are the ones that frequently end up in divorce. In such marriages, tensions and anger are typically swept under the rug, where they fester.
Believe it or not, disagreements, when used correctly and constructively, can save a marriage.
If you’re raising your eyebrows at this one, you aren’t alone. We get that reaction a lot in our workshops. On the surface, it seems that a couple that consistently argues shouldn’t be together in the first place.
“You mean disagreements can save a marriage?” we hear, incredulously. “But don’t you hurt one another when you disagree?”
In some cases, yes. Conflict soaked with verbal, physical or emotional abuse signifies serious issues with one or both participants in a relationship. If these can’t be resolved, the marriage should be ended.
But we find that most arguments in a marriage involve disagreements or misunderstandings that escalate into thrown dishes and yelling. When these disagreements are aired constructively and lovingly, rather than confrontationally, they provide a valuable way to save a marriage.
This is why, when we’re asked to help save a marriage, we’ll ask the couple to go back to the original source of a fight. Once everyone gets beyond the “he did this,” or “she didn’t do that,” real issues pop up.
Perhaps, deep down, she doesn’t think he respects her, which is why she spends so much time at the office, where she is respected. Or maybe he feels taken for granted, which is why he blew the budget on the big-screen TV – his way of taking care of himself.
The point is, airing the disagreements in a calm and rational fashion gives a good glimpse into what your partner might be thinking – and moves you toward a saved marriage.
So next time you want to get into it with your spouse, go ahead – but do so gently and rationally, without name-calling or hurting one another’s feelings. Agreeing to disagree, in such cases, could be the best way to save a marriage, and to make it better.