All couples experience conflict… it’s inevitable. If you are married, and you’ve never experienced conflict, then your relationship simply isn’t passionate enough. Some couples don’t like to admit that they have disagreements because they’re afraid that they’re vicariously telling people that they have bad communication. But it’s a false assumption and myth that a lack of agreement means you’re an awful communicator. The New York Times journalist who broke the internet when she suggested making guacamole out of peas is still a great communicator despite the rest of the world disagreeing with her.
The logical thing to do is to agree to disagree. On a superficial level, this is good advice and easy to say – but when you have a disagreement about finances, parenting or a similar issue – agreeing to disagree simply isn’t an option. You have to make a decision to spend the money or not – continue with time-outs or revert to spanking. The gray area of agreeing to disagree completely disappears. And that’s when a disagreement often turns into an argument.
The technical definition of an argument is a “typically” heated or angry exchange of opposite views. When people argue, they attack each other’s logic. But here’s a thought: instead of attacking each other’s logic, figure out a way to solve the problem. Of course, this is easier said than done. If both people believe that the resolution is rooted in the other person accepting and applying their opinion to the problem, you don’t get far.
If you want to resolve a problem and side-step the argument, you’ve got to be willing to dig deep. A lot of the disagreements that I have with my husband have deep roots. A conflict over finances is often rooted in fear and insecurity. But sometimes it’s something else like irresponsibility or impulsiveness. Conflicts over how to parent is often rooted in childhood. How we were raised affects how we parent, and sometimes ‘issues’ with our childhood spill over into our parenting. Again, it’s about uncovering the root. Once the root is uncovered and dealt with, it’s unlikely that we’ll have an argument about it again in the future.
And when all else fails, I try to remember that we are on the same team. We are both on Team Wakefield. We’re a united front. And that is exactly what happens during a disagreement, you forget that you’re on the same team. We are not each other’s opponent – the opponent is the problem.