I remember entering marriage so excited to have finally found the one who will complete me. The knowing that all we needed for a happy marriage was love—and based off how much we had of that for one another, we were gonna be just fine.
Then enters the blindside of refinement.
The blindside of highlighting one another’s flaws.
The blindside of triggers.
All. The. Things.
We really didn’t have many problems dating and we weren’t ever afraid of any problem tearing us apart.
Remember… we were in loooove. But what we didn’t realize was that it wasn’t going to be the problems that would threaten to tear us apart, but rather how we handled them.
This isn’t just true for us, it’s true for all couples.
Most couples enter marriage completely unaware of their triggers, their greatest fears, and their insecurities. It’s marriage that often brings these things out. But that’s where the goodness, yes goodness, of conflict comes in.
Conflict is a great teacher.
The struggle is being willing to become its student.
When conflict arises, and it will in marriage, as do some of those triggers or fears, and whether you react or respond to them will make all the difference. Triggers and fears often ignite an immediate fight, flight, or freeze reaction. These responses are all defense mechanisms. The problem is in marriage you are supposed to be on the same team with someone who you do not need to defend yourself from.
(*Disclaimer: We’re not talking abusive situations here. If that is you, check out this Expedition Marriage podcast episode Enough is Enough)
What You Need to Know about Conflict
To become a student of conflict, you’ve got to add in a pause when those triggers come up. Triggers need to be trained against immediate reaction. They need to be redirected towards slowing down for a pause. Triggers need to start inviting in questions. Questions like:
- Is my spouse my enemy here? Is he really against me or does it just feel like it?
- What am I really feeling and reacting to? Being misunderstood, unheard, rejected, fear, potential abandonment? What else has ever made me feel this way?
- Do I need clarification? Have I heard what is actually being said, or did the filter it went through skew it?
- Is there an opportunity for me to grow here? (Tough one…sorry, not sorry, it’s good for you!)
So many times couples fight over everything BUT the actual issue. Once big emotions enter in, they open a door for all rational thinking and problems solving skills to make a fast exit. If you can begin to slow down your trigger reactions, start believing your spouse is not against you, and that conflict can actually be a good thing because it highlights the areas you need to grow, amazing things can happen in your marriage.
Conflict and triggers call your core beliefs to the surface. Your job is to question what they’re telling you and if they’re true.
Anywhere we’ve had pain, such as rejection, emotional abandonment, control, or so many other things, our filters that we receive with or look at life through were shaped. Those filters can be skewed, and conflict and our triggers allow us to take a look at them and correct them.
So the next time conflict enters in, don’t be afraid of it, don’t react immediately to it, instead, slow it down, invite it in and see if you can learn more about yourself and one another in its process.