At our LIFE Marriage Retreats Margo and I describe to couples the way we envision a conflict or issue we are dealing with. Rather than allowing the issue to come between us as something to be fought over, leading to a struggle to prove ourselves right, we instead work to envision ourselves on the same side, standing shoulder to shoulder dealing with the issue from that vantage point. We realize that we want to be on the same side more than we want to “win” the argument. We remind ourselves that our marriage relationship is far more important than the disagreements we might have.
There is nothing wrong with conflict in a marriage, it is inevitable. Conflict is simply a different perspective, a dissimilar opinion of possible solutions. It is when we begin to contend or fight over the conflict that it becomes damaging. We have the choice in every disagreement to either tear our partner down in an effort to prove ourselves right, or to unite to solve a common problem, building our relationship in the process.
The next time an issue arises in your relationship be aware of how you perceive the situation. Are you looking at your partner as the problem and as an adversary? If so, make a shift and see the issue as the problem, and unite with your partner in finding common ground and a solution that works best for all. Problem solving always feels best as part of a team rather than as adversaries.