Overall, marital conflict can be described as a disagreement or a dispute that originates from partners’ dissatisfaction with the actions or character traits of one another. It can also be attributed to the differences in spouses’ needs or the expectations that they set for each other. This is one of the main definitions that should be considered.
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Researchers argue that marital conflicts are inevitable, even if the marriage is a successful one (Ashford & LeCroy, 2010, p. 509). Apart from that, couples should not pretend that a conflict does not exist. It is not possible to turn a blind eye to such disagreements because this behavior can eventually weaken family ties. This is one of the points that can be made.
Certainly, psychologists admit that one cannot disregard the risk of spousal discrepancy. For example, in many cases, conflicts originate from the differences in impulsivity, personal distress, or the level of a person’s self-centeredness (Kilmann & Vendemia, 2013, p. 196). However, more attention should be paid to the ability of partners to handle conflicts. This is one of the main arguments that can be put forward.
There are several factors that can increase the likelihood of poor outcomes in relations. For example, one can speak about the lack of knowledge about the partner. According to the findings of psychologists, the longer duration of courtship is a characteristic of many successful married couples (Ashford & LeCroy, 2010, p. 508).
In other words, people should have an opportunity to learn more about the attitudes, expectations and values of one another. Moreover, the longer courtship enables people to set more realistic expectations for their future marriage. In turn, the lack of knowledge about one another is one of the pitfalls that should be avoided by couples.
Furthermore, one should remember that the income level of a household can also affect the outcomes in relations. It should be kept in mind that the rates of divorce are usually higher among lower class families (Ashford & LeCroy, 2010, p. 508). One can argue that economic difficulties can increase people’s dissatisfaction with marriage (Ashford & LeCroy, 2010, p. 508).
Such partners can often accuse one another of various faults, but very often these accusations are not justified. This is one of the possible challenges that should not be overlooked. Admittedly, people with a higher income level can struggle with marital conflicts. Yet, such couples are more resilient to disputes or disagreements.
Apart from that, it is important to consider the role of personal characteristics that can also adversely affect marital relations. For instance, partners usually find it more difficult to maintain their relations, if they have different levels of impulsivity (Kilmann & Vendemia, 2013, p. 196).
As a rule, such partners can respond to the same situations in different ways, and under such circumstances, both spouses can struggle with stress. One of them may try to avoid conflicts; however, he/she can be dissatisfied with marriage.
From the perspective of this individual, the behavior of a spouse is unpredictable. This is one of the details that should be singled out. Family couples should clearly understand the importance of this risk factor in order to maintain their relations. To a great extent, this example indicates that spousal discrepancy can have a disruptive effect on marriage.
Furthermore, self-centeredness can also increase the risk of poor outcomes in relations (Kilmann & Vendemia, 2013, p. 196). People expect that their partners are both willing and able to understand their feelings. Provided that this need is not met, a relationship is more likely to end.
In this case, a person can believe that his/her partner is not caring or supportive (Kilmann & Vendemia, 2013). Therefore, this individual will experience discontent, and he/she may become reticent or alienated in the long term. If these factors are mitigated, family couples will become more resilient to various conflicts or external stressors.
Scholars provide several recommendations that can help married couples resolve their conflicts. First of all, criticism should be directed at the specific action taken by a person. Moreover, it is important to explain why this action was wrong (Ashford & LeCroy, 2010, p. 509).
However, one should not insult a person because he/she can believe that there is no way in which a certain mistake can be corrected. This is one of the pitfalls that should be avoided. Additionally, insults can prompt partners to believe their marriage cannot be successful even if they change their behavior.
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Therefore, people should bear in mind that the criticism should not be destructive. This is one of the aspects that can be singled out.
Moreover, partners should remember that empathy is also critical for the effective conflict resolution. One should be able to place oneself in the position of another person. For instance, one should try to understand why a partner behaves in a certain way.
Additionally, well-developed listening skills can help people avoid or resolve conflicts. Thus, marital conflicts can be inevitable, but married couples should know how such situations can be handled.
Ashford, J., & LeCroy, C. (2010). Human behavior in the social environment: a multidimensional perspective. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.
Kilmann, P., & Vendemia, J. (2013). Partner Discrepancies in Distressed Marriages. Journal Of Social Psychology, 153(2), 196-211.