Conflict in Marital Relationships

Paper Type: 
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1906 Words
Date:  2021-03-01

In a world of infinite human interactions, conflict is inevitable, Conflict can, on one hand, lead to personal development and social progress and, on the contrary, result in catastrophes. This is why conflict management and resolution is a vital part of our existence. Conflict management, in this contest, involves accepting and sometimes encouraging such conflict as an essential part of growth, at the same time keeping it at the minimum levels as possible harm. It means confining conflict within boundaries where it is least destructive while seeking ways to resolve it as soon as possible and as constructively as it can allow. This paper evaluates marital conflicts, methodologies and strategies that can be employed to settle the conflict and the potential recommendations for conflicts resolution with the boundaries of marriage.

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Marital conflicts are the conflicts that take place within the confines of marriage among couples mostly in a family set-up (Gottman, 12). The marital conflict has become part of everyday family life. How a couple handles marital conflict, determines the strengths and the nature of their relationship. The conflict has the power to make or destroy a marriage irrespective of the love the couple feel for each other. Therefore, it is paramount for a married couple to identify active and useful means of conflict management and resolution. There are various ups and down in any marriage. As it is within any form of human relationships as there can never be perfection in life (Gottman, 15). Conflicts are unavoidable and essential for the continuity of the atmosphere of love and affection. When mishandled, they can lead to unfortunate situations like anger, depression, dissatisfaction, unfulfilled desires and anxiety.

Therefore, it is important that people learn to handle marital conflicts in a way that develops and fosters smoothness in life (Gottman, 15). Marital conflicts are inevitable in any intimate relationship and occur in the form of disagreements, arguments, tensions and dislikes. If handled poorly, it may result in deterioration and more conflicts in the relationship but if properly handled it fosters strength and trust in the relationship. There is empirical evidence that conflict occurs in both healthy and dissatisfied marriages alike, but the behavior of management resolution vary considerably from one couple to the next (Gottman, 17). Various research has been carried out on the issue of marital conflicts. The research has been sacksful in identifying causes of conflicts, the magnitude and the different ways employed by couples to deal with such conflicts. However, research on marital conflicts has its limitations.

There is a distinct limitation on the study of marital conflict, a limitation that poses a challenge in the assessment of these conflicts. As much as conflicts are an integral component in any marital relationship, most couples do not experience them on a daily basis (Gottman, 33). However, when they occur some people decide to keep them hidden from public scrutiny, thus, making it difficult for a researcher to find respondent when performing a field research. Instead, studies opt to use structured laboratory setting or using questionnaires with leading questions asking the respondents to provide a self-report describing their marital relationships and the general experiences about conflicts and conflict management

Another limitation is that the study is mostly undertaken in a particular location. The researchers hope that the results are generalizable to cover the wider region that could not be accessed (Gottman, 35). The problem with this assumption is that not conflicts are unique to each couple and as much as most of them are familiar does not warrant a generalization.

The other limitation of this study is to the cultural beliefs and religious difference of the respondents. What could be considered as a conflict in the relationship of one couple could not be considered a conflict in another couples relationship (Gottman, 39). Cultural and religious beliefs associated with marriage norms and the view of marital discord varies from one couple to the next. This not only interferes with the amount and quality of data gathered but also affects generalization.

Various issues lead or contribute to marital conflict (Reid, 5). While most of these matters are concrete and very contentious, some of them are more perceived clashes than real ones. The observed things are because human being expects to encounter difficulties while trying to achieve their goals, these difficulties are sometimes not there yet we assume there are. In a marriage setting, the couple may experience both the real and the perceived issues of conflicts. Some of the major issues of conflict are;

Communication breakdown

The failure, among couples, to engage with one another in ideas and feelings forces the other to fill in gaps as per their judgment (Reid, 8). They tend to read in and predict what the other person wants, thinks or respond. This prediction almost always borders, on the contrary, where one couple suspects negative things that provoke anxiety making them look or expect the worst. If this wrong prediction continues, the couples trust for each other declines and they start becoming defensive and suspicious of each other.

Cultural belief, attitudes and expectations (Reid, 9)

This creates value conflicts. Here the couple is faced with the conflict of decision making. They become rigid and inflexible and have dogmatic beliefs on the right approach and way of doing anything within the marriage. These predispose them to choose different methods of achieving similar goals. And because each objective requires a substantial amount of investment in terms of time, resources and sacrifice, the conflict becomes which means to use to achieve their targets.


There is a conflict in the determination of who is in charge (Reid 11), who makes a decision on what is to be done, how it will be done and who will lead. For example, one parent may be for democracy while the other is autocratic. Such a couple has the conflict to resolve honest opinion differences. When faced with a decision, they become sidetracked on who will decide what should be done. Whose opinion is to be accepted as the right one, thus the conflicts goes down to a lose-win situation.

Division of labor

There is always a discrepancy in role performances (Reid, 14). Conflict arises when the couple views each other role differently. If the wife considers he role as more important that the man, a conflict is borne to arise. At the same time, if labor is divided unfairly, mostly based on gender, there is prone to cause conflicts as one party seeks for equal treatment as the other. Such role as providing for the family and taking care of the children and house chores are among the highest causes of marital conflict.

Unresolved conflicts

The number of prior unresolved conflicts increases the possibility of future conflicts among couples (Reid, 17). Past conflicts if unresolved increases the possibility the couple will encounter the same conflict or other of the same magnitude in future. The same conflicts hurt the possibility of dealing with the recent ones possibly because of the hurt that came with the former.


Change is critical and is also very inevitable especially in a marriage setting (Reid, 18). Changes come with a lot of disequilibrium, and most people are unwilling to take it. People prefer the familiar, secure and patterned way of life they are used to and tend to approach and shift very cautiously. However, change almost always occurs abruptly and unpredictably, and when this happens, it spurs anxiety to anger and confusion and a rigid couple many enter into conflict

The silver lining amidst these conflict understands that there is a possibility of coming out of them unscathed and stronger (Taylor, 11). There are various communication methodologies at the disposal of any couple undergoing marital conflicts to use to resolve the conflict and move on.

First on the list is the collaborative strategy. Here the couple gets actively involved in the conflicts; they assess what each of them must do, at the same time cooperation with the other person. This is the point where they strike a balance, a win-win situation (Taylor, 12). The key to this communication strategy is looking and establishing the pressing issues, needs and interest of the other party in the hope of coming to a consensus, where both sides are satisfied or represented. This methodology worked when the issues conflicted on are paramount both sides and where none of them is willing to let go. Both teams need to be aware of the problem at and also very clear on what they want. Here both sides need to have taken time examining the problem and putting some thought into the possible solution and willing to share them (Taylor, 11). The couple here has the skill to express their concerns and to also listen to each other. Finally, collaboration happens when both couples have same influence and power but at the same time willing to put that aside for the sake of coming to an amicable solution.

The next communication methodology is the accommodative style (Taylor, 13). Here one party works closely and cooperatively with the other, without trying to assert their stand. This takes place where the outcome of the conflict is more important to the other party than another. In accommodative strategy, one party agrees approaches the conflict like the other party and does what the other party wants. This happens when one party does not care about the outcomes or when they are more interested in keeping peace and harmony with that person than to have their way. Also, one party may realize that the matter is, in fact, imperative to the other person and that the outcome will affect them more than they would be affected themselves (Taylor, 13). The accommodative strategy may also take place when one party realizes they were wrong and were willing to change since the other person is right. At the same time when they realize that they have little influence on the direction of the outcome or that their chance of winning is very minimal.

Another communication methodology of conflict resolution is compromising approach (Taylor, 16). Here the couple is willing to let go, each part of what they want to get the rest what they want. This is done by engaging in consensual exchanges, bargaining, and concessions to come up with a compromise solution that is appealing to both parties. It is different from collaboration in that one is not necessarily looking out for the needs and interest of the other person, but they're own. The method is used where both parties have the same influence and power and are committed to coming to a consensus that is mutually exclusive. It is also used where there is a need for a quick resolution because of time pressures since it is more economical and efficient. At the same time, it can be used when a temporary solution is needed to put to end some misfortunes or when it is beneficial to have a short term resolve (Taylor, 17). Also, when all other styles have failed then it is the only way to make a relationship work.

The last methodology of communication used to resolve conflict is the avoidant style (Taylor, 19). This takes place when one party has not asserted themselves or avoids the conflicts entirely. It is a dynamic approach especially in dealing with difficult people or where there is no hurry for decision making. Avoidance can mean running away from the conflict or just delaying constructively and appropriately. The style is useful when tension is too high, and people need to cool down to make sound decisions.

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Conflict in Marital Relationships. (2021, Mar 01). Retrieved from

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