Creating a loving marriage that respects difference, individual freedom and tolerance of human weakness, while welcoming free expression of thought and emotion, remains a difficult challenge for many couples. Some couples believe that marriage will be seriously damaged if they argue or disagree. They feel conflict must be avoided at all times.
Conflict and difference within marriage is inevitable and simply unavoidable on occasions. Living closely with another person every day while sharing the same intimacies of space can create understandable tensions. The additional challenges of shared financial management and being answerable to each other on issues and decisions that were previously autonomous can create friction and disgruntlement. Such differences are explicable when you consider that partners may have been shaped differently by their particular familial, societal and environmental backgrounds. So differences of opinion on beliefs, likes, dislikes and philosophy of life are entirely logical within loving relationships.
Sometimes very primitive, regressed emotions emanating from childhood are reactivated within the unique closeness and intimacy of the marital relationship. Within this setting the unfulfilled and rejected demands of childhood can be projected onto the loving partner. This can result in recurrent conflict if these demands become aggressive, demeaning or exploitative. Many couples live the maxim that open, constructive communication and negotiation of problems is the antidote to conflict and difference. This approach is always positive and helpful but it may not in itself appease the distress of major disappointments in life, or eradicate the pain of grievous hurt. The day-to- day living of contemporary marriage has potential for ongoing conflict so couples need to put in place a set of boundaries and rules to assist them safeguard the relationship.
The primary rule that couples preparing for marriage need to put in place is to outlaw all forms of physical, emotional and psychological abuse. Name calling or blaming serves no useful purpose within loving relationships. The rules couples devise will help them to manage disagreements while allowing clear expression of emotions such as anger. When couples disagree they essentially need to feel comfortable their relationship is secure. They also need to feel confident that agreeing to disagree will not damage the fabric of the relationship. And when the disagreement is over they need to remain connected as a loving couple drawing strength from the marital entity they have created.
Respect for individual difference and tolerance of your partner’s viewpoint can enhance a loving marriage. And facilitating clear expression of emotions, thoughts and intuitive knowledge can frequently bring couples closer together rather than divide them.
Discuss with your partner how you might facilitate a safe place for difference within your relationship! Do you behave fairly during an argument with one another? Consider putting in place a set of rules or guidelines that might help you through times of conflict!
The Accord marriage preparation course, “Marriage – A Journey Not a Destination” offers an extensive series of activities around issues relating to the preparation for marriage. For further information visit: