Avoiding conflict doesn’t work

Photo credit: Michael E. Clarke (Flickr)

Photo credit: Michael E. Clarke (Flickr)

Don’t avoid conflict with your spouse. Well, that’s uncreative and cuts right to the matter, but I won’t leave you hanging without providing the “why” behind the short, but important admonishment.

I know conflict avoidance is what a lot of us hang our hats on. I know I do. We may even pride ourselves in how well we get along with everyone, but conflict avoidance in a marriage is an intimacy killer.  It’s never enjoyable to possibly open a proverbial can of worms, but if you allow a bothersome issue to be tucked away in the back of your head to never see the light of day or you minimize what is clearly troubling to you just for the sake of avoiding conflict, you’re robbing your marriage of the very discussions that could increase your intimacy. You’re also potentially pushing it down with a ton of other issues that will one day have nowhere to go but up and out of you in a resentful explosion containing everything your spouse has ever done to hurt you…but that YOU never brought up.

The very idea of bringing up a troublesome issue that could create conflict may be unsettling, but as long as you’re not in an abusive relationship (if you are, seek help immediately), it not only allows you to raise an issue that may need to be resolved for your sake because you feel personally wounded, but it also may be something your spouse needs to work on as well. In fact, it’s likely that whatever conflict-inducing topic you raise, it’s something that spurs on both of you to make a change as individuals and may cause both of you to work on  a solution to a problem TOGETHER. This is a great intimacy enhancer; reaching a solution as a team.

Do you avoid conflict with your spouse on a regular basis? If so, consider the consequences and the alternative.


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About Lori Mitton

Lori Mitton is a licensed clinical psychotherapist (MA, LLP) specializing in marriage and family therapy. She is co-founder of Permanent Passionate Partnership.
  • Keith Schooley

    I think that this is good. I’d also like to see concrete examples of how, for lack of a better term, positive conflict engagement can lead to solution-building instead of having it blow up in one’s face.

  • Good thinking! Look for that in an upcoming post.

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