The Melody section focuses on conflict, apology, forgiveness, and growth. Today, Kyle and I talk about how we can deny, suppress, or accept conflict.
019: The Melody of Marriage—Conflict
Truly Equal is a marriage podcast created by Kyle and Christi Playford. Our goal is to talk about marriage from a fresh perspective. We tell stories about our lives, talk about how marriage is like a love song, and give practical solutions to the problems we've encountered.
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Introduction to the Melody Section
Over the past few months, we've been going through our "Marriage as Love Song" series. We've explored both the Rhythm and Timbre sections, and are now moving into the Melody section. Dictionary.com defines melody this way:
"[Melody is] a rhythmical succession of single tones producing a distinct musical phrase or idea."
This section, then, will be focusing on four topics that—when repeated over time—form a healthy marriage. The topics we'll be discussing are conflict, apology, forgiveness and growth. This section will also be a little different from the other sections we've previously covered because this one should be viewed as a unit rather than standalone topics.
So to kick off the melody section, we must first admit that conflict happens in committed relationships. It's inevitable. You're going to argue with your spouse at some point. You may even go through seasons of conflict, or times where you continuously misunderstand each other. This doesn't mean your marriage is falling apart. However, how you approach conflict is important.
Conflict can seem to materialize out of nowhere. One hour you're having a great conversation, and the next you're having a huge argument. Sometimes its hard to know why the conflict even started in the first place. Perhaps someone said something mean or in the wrong tone. Sometimes you can feel tension that exists between you and your spouse, but you don't always know what's causing it. This is because there are different types of conflict. The two that we're going to discuss today are verbal and nonverbal.
Verbal vs. Nonverbal Conflict
In relationships, both verbal and nonverbal conflict can exist. Verbal conflict is probably what comes to mind when we think of conflict. This type of conflict exists when someone verbally expresses an opinion, need, or desire that's in conflict with someone else's verbally expressed opinion, need, or desire. Often an argument will result from verbal conflict. Nonverbal conflict, on the other hand, happens when someone disagrees with someone else, but does not express this disagreement verbally. Nonverbal conflict can also exist when someone is inwardly conflicted about their own needs or opinions. Tension is usually felt as the result of nonverbal conflict.
Dealing with Conflict
In our experience, there are a few different ways to handle conflict. However, we are not experts in this field, so if you feel that you are experiencing more complicated problems please seek professional counseling. Today we're going to look at three ways of dealing with conflict: denying that the conflict exists, suppressing the conflict, and accepting the conflict.
Denying that a conflict exists, happens when someone is inwardly conflicted about something and chooses to hide this from their spouse. If their spouse asks them what's wrong, they will respond that nothing is wrong and deny that a conflict exists. This type of conflict usually creates and invisible, palpable tension.
Example: In the beginning of our marriage, Kyle got frustrated if our kitchen wasn't clean. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me nothing was wrong and denied that the conflict existed.
Suppressing a conflict is similar to denying it exists, but a little more honest. Instead of telling their spouse that a problem doesn't exist, the person who suppresses conflict may say they don't want to talk about it.
Example: Early on in our marriage, I got frustrated when Kyle came home from work earlier than expected. I wasn't prepared for him to be home yet. Since I don't have a poker face, he immediately knew something was wrong. But when he asked me what was wrong, I would sigh and say I don't know. This effectively suppressed the conflict.
Accepting that a conflict exists is the best way to deal with conflict. The person who accepts conflict will verbally express that they have opinions, needs, or desires that are in conflict with their spouse's. If this is handled correctly, a good discussion can result and the problem can be solved. However, accepting the conflict can often lead to a full-blown argument, which then requires an apology (which we will cover next week).
Question: Do you more often deny, suppress, or accept conflict?
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