Conflict occurs in a marriage because needs are not being met. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the unmet needs have anything to do with the relationship. For example, sometimes completely separate issues with work or extended family can interfere and get projected onto your spouse.
So, how can you communicate your needs without having your conversation turn into a conflict? Follow these tips:
1. Before you bring something up, ask yourself, “Do I just need to win, or do I want us to be happier together?”
2. Respect each other’s timing. You and your spouse are not always going to be ready to have a conversation at the same time. He or she could have intestinal gas or be preoccupied with other things. You need to be patient and thoughtful enough to accommodate each other.
3. Be specific about what you want to talk about. “My need is _____” , or “I would appreciate it if you ________. Can we talk about it?” You need to have in mind exactly what you want to address.
4. Don’t dredge up the past. Don’t escalate the situation by hitting your spouse over the head with the past. If you’re really that resentful, maybe you should have a separate discussion about whether or not you should be in the relationship. Stick to what’s happening right now.
5. Don’t exaggerate. The phrase, “You always think/do ________” is an exaggeration.
6. Admit your mistakes. Any time you own up to something, you put the other person in a non-defensive position.