If you’re avoiding conflict with your spouse in an attempt to save your marriage – STOP.

The arguing isn’t the issue, and avoiding going head to head may be doing more harm than good.

In today’s blog, I’ll share with you how conflict holds the secret to saving your marriage. Read on…

Conflict Avoidance Unhealthy

There are many couples out there who would go to any lengths to avoid conflict. I hope you’re not one.

Walking on eggshells around each other means there’s a big festering pile of issues going on beneath the surface that will eventually boil over in some form or other. These issues represent your needs, your emotions, your hopes and dreams – as well as your spouse’s.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with needs – they’re what drive us. They are just very individual to each of us, and the problems arise when they meet up against someone else’s need that doesn’t align with the form ours takes.

Here’s a classic example:

He needs: time alone to pursue hobbies such as golf and watching football

Her needs: a lot of close, personal time doing things with her spouse

In this example, the husband may be working to balance his need for having some athletic outlet with his wife’s need to spend time together on the weekends. However, she may have a different idea: she would like to spend a full day with him, but he is only able to give a couple of hours each weekend day.

This is what leads to conflict. As this example illustrates, neither one of their needs is “bad,” they’re just different. But if this couple doesn’t deal with this conflict of interests, it can be unhealthy for their marriage. Maybe she doesn’t speak up and say, “You know, it would be great if even every other weekend, we took a day trip and spent time together.” Or maybe he is giving up a lot of golfing time, trying to please both his need and his wife’s need. If the conflict isn’t addressed, there could be anger simmering below the surface, or their marriage can begin to pull apart without either stepping in to address the issues.

Which leads us to how conflict can literally save your marriage.

The Secret Sauce that Makes Conflict Good

If you and your spouse are interested in saving your marriage, then by all means air your grievances to each other. You’ve heard the saying, “get it off your chest,” right? When you don’t express what you’re feeling when you’re experiencing conflicting needs with another, it feels as if a weight is pressing down on you: not healthy. It’s your body’s way of saying to you, “hey, stand up for yourself and express what you’re thinking/feeling on this subject.”

Contrary to what you may think, saving your marriage isn’t about tamping down what’s going on inside. Many couples think conflict avoidance is the way to go to make things better, but if anything – it can make things worse.


The Key Ingredient to Marriage Repair

New studies in marriage science have uncovered what happy couples do differently than those who divorce.
  • The # 1 predictor of divorce
  • New ways to connect emotionally
  • How to heal after an argument
  • How to rebuild respect again
  • How to open up without getting hurt


Want to know the secret sauce for making conflict work as a means for saving your marriage? It’s how you resolve conflict more than the fact that you’re having a conflict. Many couples fear conflict, but there’s no need if you set some boundaries for how you’ll resolve differences as they arise.

Here are three tips for liberally applying that secret sauce:

Tip 1: Disagreement vs. Argument

Understand that conflict can be used as a tool for saving your marriage – but it doesn’t mean you have to yell and throw things to get your needs expressed. A disagreement is expressing a difference of opinion, while an argument usually means both parties are trying to out shout the other, becoming more firmly entrenched in their position and .

Talk with your spouse about this: you can agree to disagree and work together to find a resolution, but if it moves into territory that’s more argumentative – and therefore not likely to be productive – you’ll move to Plan B.

Tip 2: Have a Plan B

If you and your spouse are having a disagreement that is escalating, it’s good to already have a Plan B in place. Try a simple time-out, and be willing to be the first to stop the escalation from happening by calling for one. It’s not likely that a disagreement that has moved into argument territory is going to be effectively resolved. Conflict resolution should always be the goal – especially when you’re working at saving your marriage. Keep your eye on the prize: is it more important that one of you comes out “right,” or is saving your marriage of greater importance?

Tip 3: Give Your Spouse’s Opinion Equal Weight

Before the next conflict arises with your spouse, sit down and have a conversation about how you should both manage conflict in the future. One very important, marriage-saving element – backed by relationship research – is the ability to accept the other spouse’s opinion, line of reasoning or feelings as valid. You may not agree with it (hence, why it’s a conflict), but you accept your spouse’s ideas and feelings to count as much as your own.

The goal, again, is to work toward saving your marriage – and the tip introduces an element of respect that both of you will appreciate during a time of conflict when you are trying to express your need to the other.

My best to you as you liberally apply the secret sauce of conflict in your marriage.

Do you and your spouse engage in conflict, or avoid it as much as possible?

If you avoid conflict, what does it feel like for you to not express your needs?

In the interests of saving your marriage, do you believe that engaging in conflict in a constructive way will work? What hurdles do you think you may face?  

Please share your ideas and personal experiences on this topic with other members of the community.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson


Marriage Sherpa

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