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Advice for Newlyweds: 5 Main Sources of Conflict and Steps to Resolve Them

Advice for Newlyweds: 5 Main Sources of Conflict and Steps to Resolve Them

In the US, couples tying the knot spend on average $20,000 on their wedding. Meanwhile, 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.

Although “happily ever after” is not guaranteed–no matter what type of wedding you have–there are things you can do to make it more likely. Because disagreement is normal, the ability to fight fair is key.

For newlyweds and others looking to build a healthy relationship, here are the five main sources of conflict and steps to resolve them:

Source of conflict #1: Clashing values and priorities.

Before you make any long-term commitment, explore whether you have compatible values and priorities. Do you both want kids? Do you have shared financial goals? Are the dreams and vision you have for your relationship in line with your partner’s?

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Ignoring the warning signs or failing to evaluate whether your partner meets your must-haves often leads to frustration when the novelty of the relationship wears off.

Solution: Establish mutually agreed upon standards before tension mounts.

When you have a disagreement, stick to the issue at hand and don’t bring up old, unresolved problems. Listen with empathy and stay open to alternatives. Pick your battles; a disagreement doesn’t always require a drawn-out argument or lengthy discussion.

Accept that each of you has different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Having and showing respect for each other is critical. Realize you will likely need to exercise mutually acceptable options, instead of getting all your preferences met.

Source of conflict #2: Money issues.

Studies show that money is the number one problem in marriages and the primary cause of divorce. Merging two lives forces you to scrutinize your spending habits because it’s bound to affect the other, even if you each earn your own income.

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Solution: Resolve financial issues right off the bat.

It’s always best to discuss money matters before you marry or make any other long-term commitment.  If you postponed the talk, do it as soon as possible thereafter. Discuss each other’s personal debt and come up with a plan to settle it.

Keep a separate account for your individual expenses to maintain your financial freedom. Agree on how you will use your joint account for shared expenses. Create a realistic household budget and set ground rules for how you will manage it. Live within your means and don’t make excuses for buying expensive things you really can’t afford.

Source of conflict #3 : Unmet expectations.

Making wedding plans, including the guest list, flowers, cake and location, are trivial matters compared to agreements you make about your relationship. Unmet expectations–from how your partner greets you in the morning to the type of support he provides when you’re feeling down–can lead you to be critical and judgmental.

Solution: Make direct requests.

Commit to building a strong foundation through open, honest, and daily communication. Your partner is not a mind-reader. Make direct requests for what you want and need, rather than complain about what’s missing. Refrain from personal attacks and name-calling. Discuss the behavior and actions that upset you and the changes you would like to see.

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Having the capacity and willingness to grow together is a vital ingredient in committed relationships. But while you can expect your spouse to change through his or her efforts, with your encouragement and over time, don’t expect to change your spouse just on your say-so.

Source of conflict #4: Divergent interests.

Shared activities, such as traveling, cooking, dancing, and brainstorming solutions to mutual problems, allow you to strengthen your bond and build positive memories. Spending quality time together helps you to grow together and avoid growing apart.

But how you do thrive as a couple when your interests diverge? What if you like romantic comedy movies while your partner can’t stand them?  Or you like to try ethnic restaurants and he or she prefers to cook dinner at home? Do you make compromises on whether to see the play or go to the football game?

Solution: Encourage individuality.

While it’s great to spend time with your spouse and hang out with mutual friends as a couple, maintaining your individuality is equally important.

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Invest in your own hobbies and activities. Cultivate and maintain friendships outside the social circle you share with your spouse. Agree to engage in things by yourself or with others that would simply bore or agitate your partner.

Source of conflict #5: Household chores and responsibilities.

Unfulfilled promises about who does what around your shared home creates discontent. There can also be tension over what constitutes an ideal household or tidy home. One might hate seeing dirty clothes on the floor, while the other can’t tolerate dirty dishes in the sink.

Solution: Divide and conquer.

Make core agreements about who’s responsible for which household chores and responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be exactly 50/50. You could agree to each focus on the tasks that you prefer doing. For example, one can do the cooking while the other cleans. Or agree to take turns doing certain chores that you both dislike.

Live up to your promises or renegotiate upfront when you can’t. Divide and conquer household responsibilities rather than whine about who did or who didn’t do what.

* * *

While these solutions can help you resolve conflict, you are the expert on your own relationship. Learn from your mistakes, be patient with yourself and with your partner, and apply what works for you.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Warning Signs That You’re a People Pleaser

5 Warning Signs That You’re a People Pleaser

Do any of the followings sound familiar…

You cringe at the thought of saying no. You obsess about what others think of you and whether you’re doing something to make them dislike you. You live your life based on the opinions of others because you are deathly afraid of disappointing them.

If you say yes to all of these, you are likely a chronic people pleaser.

It’s hard not to struggle with people-pleasing at one time or another in our lives. As social beings, it’s in our nature to get along with others; our survival and success depend on it.

However, there is a fine line between healthy social behavior and the experience of emotional depletion caused by chronic people-pleasing. In addition to being emotionally drained, you may find yourself compromising on your principles and values in order to be accepted. As you help others to get what they want, your own health and well-being will suffer.

As a recovering people pleaser myself, I’ve observed these five common signs of chronic people-pleasing and some ways to overcome it:

1. You’re Incapable of Saying No

Do you find it painfully hard to turn down the requests of family, friends, and even acquaintances or strangers? You really want to say no, but instead, you say yes to their various demands.

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Before you know it, you’ve become the go-to person when something needs to get done. From the small to the large, you take on every task. You may even be considered a hero to some.

On the inside, you’re suffering. You genuinely want to help others, but you also know that you are depleting your own resources with every “yes.” You may fear that you’ll lose your friendships and good reputation by saying no. After all, last thing you want to be called is selfish.

Solution

First, realize that your capacity to care for others and your capacity to care for yourself are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the two are intimately related.

Second, understand that you are not responsible for the happiness of those around you. They are. Let these two realities give you permission to say no. Start practicing with small requests. Refuse kindly, and without apology.

2. You Avoid Making Decisions or Sharing Your Opinions

Do you have a hard time voicing your opinions and feelings in a group setting or with close friends? Do you constantly allow others to make decisions for you?

You understand a deep truth about decisions and opinions: they divide. However, it’s not in your nature to cause division by speaking up, so you remain silent to avoid conflict.

Over time, this behavior is deadly, because as you defer to the opinions and decisions of others, you are silencing your own voice. This will rob the world of your unique perspectives and gifts.

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Solution

Remember that you can disagree without being disagreeable. People can have divergent opinions and still treat each other with respect and kindness. So give voice to your thoughts, concerns, and needs.

By speaking up, you may rock the boat. You may even be outvoted. But if you treat others with respect, they will respect you even when they disagree with your opinions and choices.

3. You’re Crushed When You Discover Someone Doesn’t like You

This is a hard one. It seems reasonable to assume that if you go out of your way to please everyone, then everyone will like you. But it’s not true.

Some people will dislike you simply because of who you are or for reasons outside of your control. You understand this intellectually, but you cannot stop trying to win the few holdouts.

Solution

Closely examine your desire to be liked by everyone. Did this originate in your childhood, as you tried to win the affections of family members or friends at school? Use tools such as reflection, meditation, and counseling to help you let go of past negative experiences.

As social beings, we need to be loved and accepted – but not by everyone. Decide whose love and affection is worth the effort and whose is not.

4. You’re Resentful of Others but Are Not Sure Why

This often happens when we suppress our feelings and needs over the long term.

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Do you feel unexplained anger toward your close friends, spouse, or boss? The anger is your subconscious telling you that you have been neglecting yourself while helping others advance their goals. Think of this resentment as the “check engine” light turning on in your car. Don’t ignore it.

Solution

Face the truth of what is going on in your life. If you’re feeling overextended or taken advantage of, acknowledge these feelings. Avoid second-guessing yourself. Find time for self care, and make this a priority.

5. You’re Unaware of How Far You’re Willing to Go – Until You’re in over Your Head

This is a sure sign that you lack proper boundaries. You avoid setting limits because you believe this runs counter to having a generous spirit. But this simply allows people greater latitude to intrude into your life. The requests may become more and more unreasonable and you may not realize it until someone has crossed the line.

If you’ve taken on too much, you may experience passive aggressive behavior, crying for no apparent reason, anxiety, or depression.

Solution

Be willing to admit that your time and energy are limited, not because you’re selfish, but because it’s the truth.

Boundaries are simply a recognition of that truth. Do not be afraid to set your boundaries and enforce them. It will take a while for you and others to get used to it, but you’ll experience an increased sense of well-being, and people will learn to accept your limits.

Learn to set boundaries for good: How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

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Final Thoughts

You can be generous without allowing yourself to be used. You can be kind without being a pushover. You can be well-liked without having to sell your soul.

Don’t allow your fears and insecurities to turn you into a chronic people-pleaser. Instead, make time to please one of the most important people in your life: you.

Why? Because when you care for yourself, you can care for others out of the abundance of your own well-being. You will do this not because you are afraid of losing their affection, but simply because you want to. You will experience true freedom.

So decide today to give yourself the same love and attention you give to others. This is one decision you won’t regret.

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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