The Problem of Avoiding Conflict with My Spouse and WW Link Up!

Avoiding Conflict in Marriage

Today is another repost of an oldie {October 2010} but a goodie from my series, “The Top Ten Mistakes I Made in Marriage.” Enjoy!

I grew up in a family that didn’t really know how to resolve conflicts in a healthy way. Often my parents played opposite positions in times of conflict, but neither position brought resolution to the problem, nor did it bring them together as a couple.

They were living examples of the extremes in communication. My mother would aggressively confront my dad regarding a problem and my dad would passively run the other way.

In marriage, we tend to follow the example of how our parents related and problem-solved. That’s what I ended up doing. In the early years of my relationship with my husband, I adopted my father’s approach—passively withdrawing from any conflict we had.

Our conversation would go something like this …

My hubby would notice that I was being unusually quiet and avoiding him.

He would then say, “Is something wrong, Beth?”

I would say, “No, I’m fine.” (Often said in a curt way)

He would then say, “I can tell that something’s wrong! Tell me the truth, Beth!”

I would say, “No, really, I’m fine!” (Though, still not convincing him!)

At that point, he usually pulled out all the stops to figuratively drag me out of my place of hiding (although it felt as controlling and harsh as being physically dragged out of my hiding place!).

You might have guessed that this approach didn’t work. (Go figure!?)

Instead, it only made matters worse!

My husband and I were making the same opposite-ended mistake that my parents made in their times of conflict.  I withdrew from him in steely, cold silence, which felt very much like abandonment or at least harsh rejection to my husband. And as my husband advanced forward, pursuing me with great voracity and indignation, it seemed to me that he had turned from simply desiring openness to an all out attack!

Since we were operating at the conflict resolution extremes, we remained deadlocked whenever conflicts arose. Ah-hem, Correction! There actually isn’t conflict “resolution” when it’s at the extremes.

 

Can you relate to this problem? 

 

Are you still struggling to find that middle ground in times of conflict? 

 

What fears or hesitations get in the way of dealing directly with your spouse when a conflict arises?

 

I will be returning from my sabbatical the week of August 17th. And boy, do I have a lot of things planned! I’m currently preparing my ebook on the forgiveness series I did this past year that I’ll be sharing with all of my lovely subscribers when I return! I can’t wait to give you all that and much, much more!

Joining  with  Works for Me Wednesday,  Whimsical Wednesday,Wholehearted WednesdaySo Much at Home and Essential Fridays.

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  • Mary

    So glad for the community link up as always but more thankful that you are sharing such good posts that teach and encourage. Blessed to be in community with you, Beth! Praying that your writing is going well and I can’t wait to see your beautiful face here in a couple of weeks!

  • JosephPote

    Oh, yes! I am very familiar with conflict avoidance. Even as a child I preferred apologizing for something I didn’t believe I’d done wrong over continued conflict.

    As an adult, when I first started learning to really speak out about how I felt, I initially went to the opposite extreme of being very confrontational about even minor things.

    I can’t say I’ve really found the right balance even now…I still get it wrong more often than right…but my wife and I are learning to have more grace for each other…and somehow we muddle thru the miscommunications…

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  • That was me too Beth, and it truly never helps. Now I am striving and thriving on being more open and conversational when I am upset about something. It helps resolution and healing happen, and even faster…

  • This is something I had to be very intentional about when starting my relationship with my husband! I knew it was something I had done in the past but wanted to avoid. Luckily Ryan and I have been blessed with open communication after working so hard I the beginning.

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Interesting subject.

    I find that conflict avoidance, like most relational “tools”, works “sometimes”. It really depends on the situation, and before opening up a conflict, I ask myself a few questions-

    “Can this conflict really change her heart and mind, or am I just venting, and trying to impose a change in behaviour by forcing a confrontation?”

    “Is the potential benefit from the conflict worth the pain of the process and the possible downside risks of resentment and hostility?”

    “Can I live with this issue unresolved, or will it eat away at me until I ‘act out’?”

    I’ve found that I step away from a lot more conflicts now, because they simply aren’t worth the trouble. The fight won’t change things, not at heart, and will leave an echo of bad feeling that will be audible for weeks…or years.

    Cowardly? Perhaps.

    Good for the marriage? I don’t know. It’s required a certain detachment on my part, which I suspect may be detrimental in the long run.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2014/08/toxic-friends.html

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  • stasia08

    I tend to be the over confrontational. I am learning to let go and wait to have conversations until later, especially when our daughter is around. I have to remind myself that not everything is an emergency and that it is more important to show my respect for my husband than to “win.”

  • This is an area that, in reading it before-and now looking at it again, I can reallty see thare has been such positive growth in our marriage. I really notice it more in my husband than I do in myself. He is so good to say, “Let’s take some time to talk later” …when we aren’t stressed, reactive, or overwhealmed. NOW, if I could just stop spending that waiting time worrying and fretting and overanalyzing everything I’ve ever done that could have every been misinterperted as wrong and come up with a defense for it, it may help the situation instead of sabotage it.

  • My husband endured the silent treatment way too many times in the first few years of our marriage. After almost 39 I have learned a healthier way to deal with disagreements. I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit who leads our marital life in healthy ways. I wish there had been more teaching about marriage like your blog all those years ago. ~Pamela

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