Getting ready for the big day when you finally get to be together? While marriage is a wonderful new phase of life, it is also a big adjustment. Now you’ve got two people with sin-natures living under the same roof.

But in those early days of adjustment, don’t lose heart! Find creative (and fun) ways to solve your conflicts that will build your marriage instead of tearing it down. Here, a few seasoned married couples share some of their creative (and sometimes humorous) solutions for resolving conflict that have helped make their marriages work.

1. My husband is not a detail person and I am! To remind him where thing go around the house without nagging him all the time, like which things go in which cabinets, and how to operate household things — like the washing machine and dishwasher — I used a permanent marker to write instructions right inside each cabinet and appliance. Now he doesn’t have to try to remember and I’m happy because things are getting done right and put in the right places!
Bob & Dar

2. Mark and I use something called the “7 day rule.” Either of us have seven days to rehash a grievance in case something is still bothering us after the fact. After that period, we are not allowed to bring it up in a different conflict.
Mark & Jane

3. To make the trip go faster when we travel by car, we use the time to improve our marriage and communication in a non-threatening way. We talk about what we like, don’t like, things we would like to change, favorite places we’ve been together, places we want to go, etc.

Sean & Linda

4. After a conflict, we find a silly gift or make a homemade card that includes a handwritten note. Finding just the right gift gives us time for reflection and diffuses anger while inserting some humor.
Steve & Kristi

5. Trying to find an activity in common, we took up racquetball. The problem? He’s so much better than me that we would end up getting frustrated — I couldn’t return his shots and he was bored. He decided to try playing left-handed once and it worked! I can hit it back to him and he still gets a work out! This would probably work in other sports, too.
Mark & Evi

6. Strong emotion hinders progress, so we began communicating our thoughts on paper (using a notebook) and passing it back and forth, keeping emotion out of our writing as much as possible. An additional benefit to this method is that there is a record kept which is good if a spouse later tries to change his or her story to their advantage.
Tom & Gloria

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7. We don’t resolve anything — we just store it away for the next argument (can you hear the humor?). It’s been working now for seventeen years.
Rex & Peggy

And, the author of this article has two:

8. Steve and I discovered a great method quite by accident. We were having a heated argument and we got so mad, we started wrestling on the floor. Within minutes we were laughing so hard we cried. We’ve used this method (successfully) for heated conflict ever since. And, also…

9. We each picked our biggest grievances against each other and agreed to work on improving them. But we needed a little motivation. In my case, my biggest grievance against him was when he used a harsh tone of voice and his biggest grievance was when I got all huffy when he asked me to do something for him. Next, we found the motivating factors — my case back rubs, his case — well, he’s a man so use your imagination. Lastly, we applied the pressure. When he used a harsh tone of voice on me, I called him on it and I got a back rub on the spot. When I grumbled about serving him, well…let’s just say I had to pay a price. He’s gotten a lot better about harsh tones, which means not as many back rubs these days. Me, however? I’m still a whiner when he asks me to do things for him, but he’s really okay with that now.


Steve & Julie (author of this article)

Copyright © 2006 Julie Ferwerda, Used with permission.

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