The work of marriage is compromise and connection. No one is immune to this and it will last the life of the marriage. This is the wonderful and difficult struggle that every marriage goes through, it is normal. You can create a happy, fulfilling marriage by working and creating connection and reducing conflict. The research of Dr John Gottman has identified three things that will create connection in marriage. Here are some quick comments about the three areas, but go to the links to read a more detailed description.
- Treat your partner like a good friend – Show interest, encouragement and support for your spouse. Treat them better than your friends. Ask yourself this question – Who do I treat better, my friends, or my spouse? Your response should tell you how you are doing.
- Handle conflicts in gentle and positive ways – Use “I” statements not “you” statements. The goal is to be more positive and affirming in conflict, not accusing or condemning.
- Repair after conflicts and negative interactions. – Every couple argues. The difference between couples that struggle verses couples that thrive is how they repair. Work at connection and fight the problem, not each other.
How you treat each other when you are not fighting is a good predictor of how you will manage conflict and repair. Treat each other with kindness, generosity and positive affirmation and connection will grow even in the midst of conflict.