Since 1970, marriage has been on a steady decline and single living is on the rise across the globe. Divorce rates are also rising. In 1960, only 12% of marriages ended up in divorce, and in 2022 the divorce rate is up to 48%.
We hosted a 40 minute panel discussion on “How to Resolve Conflict in a Marriage”. There were four panelists each with different marriage experience – Molly (3 years), Simon (10 years), Johnny (30 years) and Clare (30 years). What’s common between all of them is that they are happily married. What can we learn from them?
Johnny gave a good analogy of a marriage:
“Don’t be fooled by what you see on the surface. Marriage is like a big barrel and it’s got one layer of honey and one layer of fat, and another layer of honey and another layer of fat. But eventually you eat through the honey and you’re stuck with the fat. If you eat it quickly, then you get to more fat. But the fat is a lot and so it takes you a long time to get through it. If you manage to get through three or four layers of fat, then the honey will will be endless”.my late dad
Here’s a quick summary of answers to some of the panel questions:
Why did you get married?
- It was the right time. We had a pretty stable relationship so it was the natural thing to do.
- I wanted someone who shares similar values as me, have lots of common topics we can discuss, and is committed to the relationship.
- The chemistry was right and we wanted to spend all our time together.
- I wanted to get married since I was 16. I did it for the challenge.
What causes conflict in a marriage?
- We have different expectations of what marriage is going to be like. We might also expect the other person to be something they are not, and we go into a marriage believing we can change the other person.
- Your spouse believes they are right and not willing to admit that they could be wrong.
- We feel the relationship is unfair or unbalanced, e.g. too much housework.
How do you resolve conflict?
- Make your spouse aware of how their behaviour is impacting you and others. It took me years to make my spouse more self-aware. Could I have done it differently? It is what it is. Life comes at you. You cannot look back. If I solved it then and there, then there would be other problems that I would need to deal with later.
- If it’s an important decision, we gather the information from external sources and personal experience so that we make the right decision. If it’s not really important, then who cares as long as my spouse is happy!
- There will be periods where the marriage is unbalanced, so we work towards getting it back into balance. It’s impossible to always be completely equal. It’s a process and that’s a good way to fairness.
What advice would you give newly married couples to ensure a happy, healthy and lasting marriage?
Johnny answered this question.
Make sure you’re in love and don’t get married for financial reasons only. Don’t get married because you found someone that thinks like you, or because someone else told you that this person is great. The way to gauge it is to feel in love.
I’ve noticed with many modern day couples that there’s too much logic being thrown in.
You know when the right person comes along. Something clicks. It’s like a little switch in your head. You don’t have to prove it with mathematics or science or biology or anything. It just happens.