By Jonah Nyoni
MARRIAGE is a unity of two different people, with different likes, tastes, and personalities. What that, therefore, means is that as long as these two human beings are together there will be a day when there will be conflict of some sort. Conflict is inevitable in any marriage. The big question is never about conflict, but how these married individuals are able to handle, manage, and resolve the conflict.
Conflict resolution before marriage
As a certified counsellor and coach, I have since observed that most people walk into marriage without training on issues to do with conflict resolution. I have seen couples argue and fight in public. Unresolved conflicts can fester into inner wounds. These wounds can even grow into a divorce. Some people overlook small issues. It is those small things that can collectively grow into a bigger problem.
Sex starvation as a cause of conflict
Sex unfulfilled or withheld can lead to frustration and moodiness. Couples at times use sex as a weapon to cow their partner into submission. This might also lead to other problems such as sex outside marriage and that has its problems as well. Couples should not use sex as a weapon, but learn the basics of resolving conflict before they enter the bedroom. Some women suffer because their men do what is called premature ejaculation, thereby leaving the woman without orgasm. Sex should be symbiotic, every party should mutually enjoy the act. After all, it takes two to tango.
Culture leading to conflict
Some cultures suppress couples from openly speaking and confronting their problems. For example, some women are subjected to pain because they should not oppose what the man says. This makes the woman subservient to the man, instead of being friends. This might lead to forced sex only to satisfy the whims of a man. The woman might not be even allowed to negotiate for sex. Culture and religion-centered conflicts become difficult to solve because they are usually shaped by belief systems, dogma, and cultural paradigms. On the other hand, some women go through that because they are ignorant of their rights.
Create a safe space
Whenever there should be a discussion within the confines of marriage, a safe environment must be created. Agree on a proper place where you will talk out your issues. Secondly, set ground rules so that everyone remains calm. When resolving an issue, don’t focus on an individual but focus on the problem and also clearly agree on what the problem is. For example, the problem might not that the other member is angry, but because anger is a reaction to someone who overspends money.
Work on your attitude
Conflicts are at times caused by the attitudes of members involved. In marriage, attitude is a powerful force. When you bring ego and the I-know-it-all attitude, it’s very hard to resolve issues. Disrespect of the other member makes it even hard to resolve a problem. Other examples of negative attitudes include being rude, not taking responsibility for your mistakes, comparing your spouse to others, not wanting to resolve issues, judging your spouse instead of picking the problem, calling the other using spiteful names, carrying grudges, always blaming your spouse, and being grumpy.
Strategy in resolving conflict
- a) Investigate — make a diagnosis of the real problem so as to clarify the real problem.
- b) Focus on an issue — resolve one issue at a time. Don’t bring many issues and end up with no solution at all. If there are many issues, take one problem at a time. Don’t focus on an individual, focus on the problem.
- c) Agree on an issue — both parties should agree that there is a problem, and what the actual problem is.
- d) Brainstorm solutions — think about solutions. Bring all possible solutions to the table. Remember the solution is not coming from one member, but both parties.
- e) Agree on a solution — Agree on the best solution to be used to resolve the problem.
- f) Action — agree on actions to take and act on them.
- g) Review — take time to review if the problem has been fully resolved. If the two of you can’t review the problem, engage experts such as a counsellor or coach to help you.
- Jonah Nyoni is an author, speaker, and leadership trainer. Follow Jonah on Twitter @jonahnyoni. WhatsApp: +263 772 581 918