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Resolving Conflict in Marriage

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

Happy couples do not argue less, they use these strategies to resolve the conflict

In every marriage, disagreements are bound to arise. It's a natural part of any relationship. Interestingly, research has revealed that even the happiest couples argue about similar topics as their less satisfied counterparts: children, finances, in-laws, and intimacy. So, what sets apart these content couples?

Research suggests that it's not the absence of conflict but rather the way happy couples handle their arguments that makes a significant difference.

Let's dive deeper into the secrets of successful conflict resolution in relationships according to the findings of the research paper "How happy couples argue: Focus on solvable issues first".

Common Sources of Marital Conflict

Before we explore the secrets of happy couples' arguments, it's worthwhile to recognize the common sources of conflict in marriages.

The study highlighted in this research paper reveals that issues such as children, money, in-laws, and intimacy tend to be recurring topics of contention. These are areas where couples often have differing opinions, expectations, and values, leading to potential conflict.

For example, one partner may want to save money for a future goal, such as a dream vacation. In contrast, the other partner may want to spend money on shopping and entertainment. This could lead to conflict and disagreements between the couple.


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The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples' Arguments

Contrary to popular belief, the research findings suggest that happy couples argue just as much as unhappy couples. The key difference lies in the way they approach and resolve their conflicts. Here are a few surprising secrets that emerged from the study:

Tackling solvable issues first

Happy couples prioritize addressing and resolving problems with clear solutions. Couples build a foundation of trust and cooperation by focusing on solvable issues, such as household chores or planning for a family vacation. This approach allows them to strengthen their bond and effectively navigate more complex challenges in the future.

Maintaining respect and empathy

Happy couples maintain a respectful and empathetic attitude during arguments. They avoid personal attacks, name-calling, and criticism, choosing instead to express their feelings and concerns calmly and compassionately. This fosters an environment of understanding and open communication, promoting healthier conflict resolution.

Active listening and compromise

Successful conflict resolution involves active listening, which entails genuinely hearing and understanding your partner's perspective. Happy couples practice this skill by actively engaging in dialogue, seeking compromise, and finding mutually beneficial solutions. They prioritize the needs and emotions of both partners, nurturing a collaborative approach to problem-solving.

Practical Tips for Effective Conflict Resolution in Relationships

Now that we've uncovered the secrets of happy couples' arguments, here are some practical tips for enhancing conflict resolution in your own relationship:

Choose your battles wisely

Recognize which issues are solvable and prioritize working on them first. By resolving smaller conflicts, you lay the foundation for addressing more complex challenges.

Communicate with respect and empathy

Maintain a respectful and empathetic attitude when arguing. Avoid blaming, criticizing, or becoming defensive. Instead, express your feelings and concerns using "I" statements, fostering a safe space for open communication.

Practice active listening

  1. Make a conscious effort to truly listen and understand your partner's perspective.

  2. Give them the space to express themselves without interruption.

  3. Reflect on what they're saying and validate their emotions.

Seek compromise:

  1. Look for solutions that accommodate both partners' needs and desires.

  2. Embrace a mindset of collaboration rather than insisting on being right.

  3. Remember, a successful resolution often involves finding a middle ground.


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What is most important to remember

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship, including a happy marriage. The key to successful conflict resolution lies in adopting effective strategies to address them.

While it is true that money is often an underlying source of conflict within relationships, it is also vital to remember that it is not the only source. Couples often argue about child-rearing, communication styles, and even simple misunderstandings.

Regardless of the origin of the disagreement, focus on solvable issues, maintain respect and empathy and practice active listening and compromise.

Not every issue can be managed without support. Money Marriage U courses are designed for couples looking for more help working through financial disagreements. Learn more by visiting the courses we offer at Money Marriage U.



University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "How happy couples argue: Focus on solvable issues first." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 September 2019. <>.


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