Nip Problems in the Bud
We all have a bit of a flair for the dramatic. While we may despise personal conflict, we’re a bit partial to the excitement and the unknown that the drama incites. There are endless reality TV shows based solely on the generation of drama. Drama is entertaining.
It certainly may be entertaining on TV, but drama in your marriage is poison. Drama, by its very nature, turns people against one another. It demands that someone be blamed, that the fault rests with a single person and that retaliation is justified. The problem is that without a dose of maturity, drama offers no exit plan. Instead, it promotes a cycle of blame, mistrust, and broken relationship. Marriages can be quickly degraded if drama is allowed to take root. The best weapons against drama are transparency and open communication.
Even the most compatible marital partners will have conflict. There's no getting around the fact that despite numerous areas of similarity, you are both two different people. Not only is it unrealistic to expect to have a no conflict marriage, it can set inappropriate expectations. Life happens. Instead of aiming for an impossible "no conflict marriage," you should work together to foster a "low conflict marriage." Not only will you both be more satisfied in your relationship, your kids will also have a healthier, more stable childhood. This low conflict marriage can be achieved by having open communication in your relationship. Open communication fosters a community of love and respect where everyone feels safe expressing their feelings and working them out. It’s only when spouses don’t share their thoughts, feelings, and emotions on a particular topic that drama is able to take root.
Your best offense against drama and the destruction it can bring into your relationship is to keep yourself from going to dark places in your mind. Whenever I'm in conflict, be it with a company or an individual, I play out various scenarios in my mind. In these scenarios, I stage mock arguments and see if I can determine which argument is the strongest. In most cases, the conflict in my mind leads to endless escalation. When the conversations play out in the real world, they tend to be much milder and, frankly, go better. Our minds are creative, but if we don't keep them in check, they'll gain too great of a role in our decision making process. Express yourself in conversations and be bold enough to share your feelings, but never retreat into the darkness of your mind. You'll find that your anger and resentment will grow to unhealthy levels.
The best approach to maintaining a low stress marriage is to manage conflict immediately. Never let it go on for days, festering, eating away at the fringes of your marital relationship. Have the courage to nip problems in the bud by talking openly and honestly with your wife and working through your problems instead of running away from them.