Have you heard of the saying trouble in paradise? That is exactly how you tend to feel when you get into conflict with your partner. When dating, I never really quite argued with Rachel, first because it was rosy (and when you are in love, you are blind to these things),plus, we were not spending a lot of time together as we do now. You know, someone whom you have not spent time with for long, lived with in the same house, can not fully exhibit their true colors, and even when they do, there are habits you shall notice about them that are only going to piss you off when you live together.
So I vividly remember the first hot conflict we had with her. During our firstborn’s pregnancy, we lived apart and my commitment was wavered in the sense that, I was unable to appreciate what she was going through fully. It is often different for you as a man when you are there during the pregnancy season, watching your spouse ballooning as this human being grows inside her. You are able to be part of the changes, notice her mood swings and how she moves from loving a particular food, to totally getting disgusted by it. I did not have this experience fully, so my scope of reaction was limited.
She kept going to the antenatal clinic alone, until one time when she insisted that I had to go for the antenatal class with her which allowed mothers and the fathers, and mentioned that it would also involve me going to watch the unborn baby kick through the ultrasound scan. This was going to be her final clinic visit before birth. At the time, having no transport, I got a loan from my friend last minute, only to arrive at the clinic an hour after Rachel’s class and scan had been done. Oh the anger and flames her eyes exhibited! I shall never forget to date. She was so furious, and now I was termed an irresponsible person, one who did not want their child and deliberately got late for the clinic. This went on for so long that she wanted nothing to do with me for nearly a week, and I was on the verge of losing both mother and child. She did not even want to hear that I was late from getting my loan late!
Fast forward, we have had more conflict over the years, and at times it has exhibited itself in a variety of ways. Before I would sulk and not talk to her, so did she, which would even go on for three days. These cold wars ran on until the day we decided to know our personalities deeper, take a counselling course online, and got to know how best to cope with conflict. These have worked and are proof to work for any relationship.
Let you and your partner calm down
Have you ever heard marriage counsellors telling you that you are only allowed to scream at your wife once? Only when the house is on fire. This dawned on me as I had to learn how to calm down first, and let my partner calm down too. This is because, if both of you are angry, you will only escalate the issue further. Take a walk, breathe in and notice your tone. Excuse yourself if you have to, and tell your partner that you would like to speak about the issue later.
Communicate your feelings openly
Until some years back, I had reservations on self-expression completely. As a man, it almost felt like telling Rachel that I got hurt by this and the other would make her think I am a weakling! That could not be further from the truth. Actually, when you get to express yourself, since your spouse loves you, they would be empathetic and want to not repeat their mistake again. Communicating has saved me from stonewalling Rachel which has so many negative effects, including not having sex! I mean, how do you get intimate with someone you are angry at?
Be open minded and listen to her point of view
Here’s the deal. Being a man may sound to you like this. Your wife has no right of expressing her feelings of hurt and her opinion holds no water. Brother, you will be having a dead union in no time! When faced with conflict, behaving like a King is the best tact. Let me paint a picture. Kings go to their courts daily to listen to the grievances of their subjects. They listen first, ask for counsel, then make a decision. Remember the famous King Solomon who handled the case of the two mothers who wanted one child? That king was able to administer justice because HE LISTENED. He was able to let both of them speak, then looked at the body language of both of them and connect with the feelings of the real mother, knowing too well that a real mother can not allow the death of their child. As such, listen to your wife, be open minded and seek wise counsel from books or wise friends if you must.
Handling conflict for us has been easy, and at no point have I felt less of a man by peacefully listening to Rachel. Remember, women are instructed to respect us, and we are instructed to Love them. If both love and respect co-exist, you shall have a smooth sail!