Every relationship has conflict - it is universal + inevitable! But what sparks the most conflict in your relationship? Is it stress, lack of time together, money, hard days at work or with the kids? (Speaking honestly: for us, it is often when we overestimate our capacity and take on too much!)
The good news is that there are SO MANY ways you can help prevent conflict, healthily work through it, AND learn from it. The idea isn’t to get rid of conflict, but to use it to strengthen your relationship.
Jeremy + Audrey have a “we can do it!” attitude about everything. And while this is such a strength, it is also a driving force of conflict in their marriage. “We can do it” often turns to “we just took on too much” and then conflict sets in.
What is the driving force of conflict in your relationship? If you aren’t sure, just look at what most of your arguments stem from. Maybe it is time, money, energy spent in different places, or unmet expectations. Whatever the root is, it is best to figure that out first so that you can work through how to resolve it, healthily, and learn from it.
Again, the goal isn’t to eradicate conflict. It is inevitable and WILL happen! The goal is to analyze it and get better at resolving conflict. And just a quick note; the best time to analyze conflict is NOT when you are having them, or right after you have them. Because you will be in the heat of the moment unable to resolve it well. The best time is during a random moment, out of the heat of it all. Which is why Jeremy + Audrey are such advocates of weekly check-ins (aka The Marriage Journal.”
“Conflict brings experience, and experience brings that growth in grace which is not to be attained by any other means.” Charles Spurgon
For Audrey, as an Enneagram 8, conflict is something she loves because she knows that on the other side of conflict she sees opportunity; the opportunity to learn more about Jeremy. It is a pathway to intimacy and growth.
For Jeremy, as an Enneagram 9, he is a conflict avoider. He would rather blink forgiveness than sit and resolve the conflict. But it is easier for him to circle back around (outside of the heat of the moment) to resolve it.
If you have not taken an Enneagram Test as a couple, do it! It is enlightening to a lot of things; especially conflict resolution.
Let’s dive into 3 things that are important when resolving conflict:
Communicating Our Expectations
You cannot meet your spouse's expectations if you do not know what they are AND you cannot expect your expectations to be met by your spouse if you have not shared them. And often, so many couples don’t know what they want so they don’t know how to share their expectations with one another. The prerequisite here is that you have to do the hard work of figuring out what you want so you can set + receive expectations in your relationship.
Jeremy + Audrey do a weekly check in (through The Marriage Journal) but also do a check-in before going somewhere, before major holidays, and ahead of special occasions. These moments of asking each other “what do you expect from this?” will help prevent conflict and unmet expectations.
While a check in is a simple practice the hard work of uncovering what is life-giving to you, how you like to be communicated with and what you want in a particular situation are necessary prerequisites. (Tools like The Enneagram Test and 5 Love Languages have been helpful for Jeremy + Audrey in learning all this!).
Establishing Our Code of Conflict For Fighting Fair
This involves 2 steps: evaluation + creation.
And here are some guiding questions as you create your own Code of Conflict:
Evaluation: Evaluate your conflict
- What scenarios tend to spark conflict in our relationship?
- What tendences do we have that tend to elevate tension to turmoil?
- When we fight, do we fight fair? When does it become unfair?
- What coping mechanisms do we use when we are overwhelmed?
- What do we do well during conflict?
Creation - Creating your Code of Conflict
Make this fun! Get some drinks and snacks, and be determined to have a sense of humor and humility about your blind spots so you won’t get offended. Resolve to talk ABOUT conflict and not get into it over this!
- What boundaries can we set so our fighting is healthy + productive rather than harmful + destructive?
- In light of the coping mechanisms above, can you decode what your partner needs in that moment?
- What can we do to speed the process of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation so that we don’t linger in hurt and disfunction?
- Describe a healthy way you would like conflict to be worked out.
Jeremy + Audrey’s Code of Conflict:
- Don’t fight in public
- Have cooling off periods
- Pursue a resolution together
- Remind each other you are on the same team
- DON’T gossip but DO seek trusted counsel
We hope that you create your own Code of Conduct For Fighting Fair and find it super valuable in your relationship; because we know it can be.
There is nothing like knowing that the one you love has seen you at your very worst, and still CHOOSES you. Conflict is often the springboard to deeper intimacy and trust.
Behind the Scenes Podcast is partnered with Compassion International. When you sponsor a child, you receive a FREE copy of our latest book, Creative Love. To Sponsor A Child - Compassion.com/Roloff or Text ROLOFF to 83393.
In this episode you’ll hear:
- Why you should communicate your expectations (psst … it helps avoid so much conflict!).
- The importance and value of doing check-ins in your relationship.
- The code of conduct for fighting fair: what it is and how you can develop your own.
Links to all the things mentioned:
- Ep 90: Special Occasions, Valentine’s Day, and Reminiscing on 5 Years of Beating50Percent
- The Enneagram Test
- 5 Love Languages
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