Ah, marriage. In the beginning everything is bliss. You’ve even convinced yourself that your spouse’s poop smells of rainbows and glitter. (Ok, that may be a lie. To be honest I don’t even know if rainbows and glitter smell all that nice. I guess that’s just implied since they look so pretty, they’d have a pleasing aroma.)
So you are coasting along in martial bliss, smelling rainbow and glitter poop, when suddenly, without warning, it happens: your first fight. This can be a disorienting time for you and your spouse if you’ve gotten along well before this point. Today I wanted to offer some tips and words of wisdom to help you both navigate this time.
1. Avoid putting your spouse on a pedestal.
Your spouse is your knight-in-shining-armor or your tiara-decked queen. Because of how highly you value them, you may be tempted to put them on a pedestal. Don’t. If you put them on a pedestal, it will crush you when the inevitable happens: They fall. They will fall every time because of their imperfect human-ness. You can avoid this disappointment by realizing that even on the best days, your spouse will make mistakes and is just as worthy of forgiveness as you are when you fail.
2. Put your pride aside and own your part of the fight.
I am a reformed yeller. Because I can sometimes start yelling during an argument, my spouse finally confided in me (after an occasion where yelling commenced) that my yelling made him uneasy. Knowing this broke my heart. Your spouse is supposed to be your confidant, your soft place to fall, and the last thing I wanted was for my husband to feel uneasy around me. So, I made a vow to work on my response to conflict. If an argument escalates, I take a step back, take a few deep breaths and calmly communicate my side.
3. If necessary, seek outside counsel.
I once believed that the best investment in our marriage we ever made was a memory foam mattress (one of us is a snorer and it helped eliminate this) 😉 , but having a few years of marriage under my belt, I can say the best investment we have ever made in our marriage is counseling.
Sometimes it’s worth it to hear from a neutral 3rd party on ways to improve your marriage and handle conflict.
4. Understand that after your first fight, your marriage will never be the same, but that’s OK.
It will be in a more mature, honest place. Over time your marriage will change, but that is how you grow: Together, till death do you part.
*Disclaimer: I realize that not all couples are necessarily skilled in conflict resolution, and sometimes situations may unfortunately escalate. Please understand that physical violence and emotional abuse are never justified. If you find yourself in those situations, please seek help. You can seek confidential help at www.thehotline.org.