Do you seem to have the same arguments over and over again? After you have one, have you taken time to discuss how you can avoid it again? Most couples don't, so the cycle repeats. (Click on the title to read more.)
We recently held a Marriage Tune-up focused on the topic of conflict. We shared two patterns of unhealthy conflict that couples frequently find themselves engaged in – The Crazy Cycle (See Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs) and The Fear Dance (See The DNA of Relationships for Couples by Greg Smalley and Robert Paul). Feeling a lack of love or respect and fear or insecurity are underneath many conflicts. There is almost always something underneath the object of an argument.
When you see the same pattern or what seems like the same argument over and over again, what do you do to keep it from repeating? In business, when a negative result occurs more than once (an even if only once), you or your team would have one or more meetings to debrief and understand what happened so that it wouldn’t happen again. Do you do the same thing in your marriage when you see a repeated situation or pattern of conflict?
Healthy conflict resolution doesn’t end with “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you,” although that’s where most of us stop. It ends when you understand what happened, why it happened, and what you both will do differently to prevent it from happening again. If you take the time to debrief your conflict and agree on steps to take in the future to respectfully engage with each other, your relationship will grow stronger and healthier. Give it a try and see what happens! (But, be sure to try it more than once because it takes time and repetition to change unhealthy habits and patterns of behavior.)