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Settling Quarrels

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Dear Jack, both you and Jil have to learn to settle your quarrels internally. Resorting to third party adjudication of your matrimonial disputes ought to be a last resort. Really last resort. Every relationship ought to have its own conflict resolution system, or simple fights will lead to break up. It’s why you have to have a review mechanism for disagreements. There’ll always be points of disagreement.

Many times the facts in issues in themselves don’t warrant the breakup of a marriage. There are very few facts in life which in themselves can lead to divorce. What causes divorce many times is the poor management of disagreement. When there’s a disagreement for example, couples refuse to talk to each other and that’s poor management of disagreement. You can’t resolve a quarrel when there’s no communication. And so the critical thing in a marital dispute is to keep the backdoor of communication open. You cannot foreclose communication when there’s marital dispute, or there’ll be no resolution. Once you foreclose communication in a marital quarrel the marriage becomes imperiled.

Do you know why we don’t want to break the ice when there’s disagreement? Pride! No party wants to be the one who capitulates. But that “capitulation” is actually a sign of maturity. Seek to discuss the issue. If you don’t discuss there can be no resolution, only exacerbation. Which means we have to be careful what we say in a quarrel with our spouse, even in the heat of anger. And once you start issuing ultimata in a marital quarrel, you give the other party no option but to defend his or her pride. So avoid issuing ultimata and decreeing extreme threats in a marital dispute. When you ratchet a threat extremity you’re practically saying it’s either my way or no more marriage.

Now, like I said the problem many times in a marital discord is not the facts. It’s the interpretation of the facts. It is our perspective on simple facts that often create marital discord. Let me illustrate. A man comes home but refuses to eat. Fact. There are many perspectives to the hunger strike. Perspective 1: Oh, some girl has fed him. Perspective 2: He thinks I’m a terrible cook, nothing pleases him. Perspective 3: He’s not eating because I said no to sex last night. Perspective 4: He’s not eating because he’s mean. Truth is, all those perspectives may be false! The man may just have had a terrible day at work! Of course when there’s no communication, imagination runs wild and those perspectives become facts. That’s how the man in our illustration suddenly begins to have an affair he’s not even aware of! You see, when there’s a disagreement the human mind considers only negative scenarios. It’s jaundiced.

Here’s another thing to note: men and women view issues differently. Because the sexes view issues differently there’ll be different interpretations of facts, unique interpretations. Means in a quarrel, you’re going to have two sets of facts. Perspectives are facts remember! In other words, you and your wife are not really talking about the same thing! You’re talking two different things! Now, the routine we employ in the settling of quarrels is winded soliloquy – long serious speeches. The man has his extensive say, pouring out HIS perspective,the woman does the same. When soliloquys are delivered in a quarrel, truth is there’s NO communication, just pouring out of viewpoints. And the soliloquy is usually done in anger by both parties. When there’s interruption,that itself becomes a fight. So it’s better to identify the facts and thrash them out one by one, each side explaining his or her viewpoint. You’ll discover(with some exceptions) it’s the extrapolations, the opinions that are the problem not the facts. And sometimes the cause of the quarrel is missing pieces of information – facts not communicated by either side. And so judgments are made on incomplete information. When the full facts are shared both sides then look foolish.You’ll wonder what the fight was all about when the quarrel is settled. Especially if both parties truly love each other. And so the causes of most mischief in a marital quarrel are interpretation of facts, extrapolations and missing bits.

The character of communication about an issue can also create a problem. In a marital quarrel, you have to be careful about the words you use. You’ve got to control your anger. The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. You have control over your utterances. And if you want someone to have a radical change of behavior in marriage, you first acknowledge the efforts made. When you acknowledge effort you create encouragement. The other party feels appreciated, for effort. Then you can ask for more. But in a positive tone, not a threatening or commanding tone.

Marriage is about cooperation. Marriage is a cooperative society. You tease out cooperation in marriage. You can’t command cooperation. That’s a contradiction in terms. Both of you sit down, and in a cooperative spirit go through the issues. Cooperative spirit I said. In that spirit you’ll see how wrong you both are– as the other person gives his or her perspective to the set of facts.Keep this objective in mind: the end of a marital quarrel should be greater love. Disagreements are meant to bring you closer. Why? Because resolution creates greater understanding. Marriage takes a lot of adjustment. But we sometimes ask for leaps of faith instead of adjustment. We ask for those leaps of faith because we assume our perspective is what’s right. That our viewpoint is the standard.

After a resolved quarrel, forgive. Not only forgive,chuck out the whole thing. Don’t file “another thing” away. You’re not Ministry of Information. That way, when next there’s a quarrel there’s no referencing of past quarrels. It’s how to have a good marriage. Truth is, quarrels are sometimes indicative of the passion we have for a happy marriage. Convert the energy. I do hope to hear from both of you that you’ve settled the quarrel.

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder |

The problem many times in a marital discord is not the facts. It’s the interpretation of the facts. Click To Tweet
Tags : Marriage, Divorce, Quarrel
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