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Strategies for Men to Reduce Conflict in Marriage

Updated: Jan 4

Even the strongest marriages can sometimes encounter challenging conflicts to manage. While disagreements are natural in any relationship, their resolution and how they are resolved play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and thriving marital bond. 

For men seeking to foster harmony within their marriage, employing effective conflict resolution strategies can be instrumental. 

How Bad is Your Marriage?

Dr. John Gottman is often recognized as a global expert for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction. Dr. Gottman has conducted 50 years of breakthrough research on thousands of couples.

A marriage characterized by frequent displays of four interaction patterns is likely to lead to divorce, according to Dr. Gottman. He named these interactions the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:” stonewalling, defensiveness, criticism, and contempt.


Most often, stonewalling happens when a spouse just shuts down when faced with conflict, difficult conversations, or requests for change because they're overwhelmed. Gottman reports that he might fold his arms and look away, no facial movement, no vocalization, maybe an occasional glance at the speaker to see if the ogre magically disappears.


Men are more likely to be defensive when their spouses complain about something or defend themselves without acknowledging the merits of what their partner says, or go on the attack and point out their spouse's faults without acknowledging the legitimacy of what they said.


Criticism is when one spouse attacks the character or personality of the other spouse while complaining or concerned. People who criticize often use words like "you always" or "you never."


According to Gottman's research, contempt kills relationships for both men and women. Gottman says contempt is like sulfuric acid for love; it's when one spouse displays disgust or an utterly dismissive attitude toward the other spouse.

On the other hand, healthy marriages can be marked by couples who engage in these negative behaviors less frequently. These couples are more successful at cultivating a positive culture of mutual appreciation, affection, and gift-giving in their marriages.

Strategies for Men to Reduce Marital Conflict

A Conversation with Leslie Doares

Lesli Doares, a marriage and family therapist focusing largely on supporting men. Combined with her professional experience and an almost 40-year relationship with her husband, she has created a paradigm shift in marriage to become a space where both partners feel loved, respected, and included.

Leslie is also the author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After with More Intention, Less Work and, Hero Husband: How to Make Your Wife (and You) Happy.


🔔 Click here to listen and subscribe to the Modern Husbands Podcast on Apple.

🔔 Click here to listen and subscribe to the Modern Husbands Podcast on Spotify.

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7 Helpful Approaches to Reduce Conflict in Marriage

Relationships work best when you look for your partner's strengths, express appreciation for his or her strengths, and are empathetic and attentive. 

A helpful rule of thumb to remember is to trade five positive interactions with your spouse for every negative one.


Here are seven more approaches that can help navigate and diminish conflicts within a marital relationship.

Strategies for men to reduce conflict in marriage

1. Cultivate Open Communication

Successful relationships are built on communication. Communication that's open, honest, and respectful is crucial for men who want to reduce conflict. Actively listen, which is a strategy of listening with empathy and curiously to fully understand your spouse. This is the opposite of waiting until it's your turn to talk. 

2. Practice Empathy and Understanding

Empathy bridges differences of opinion. You'll have a better understanding of your partner's emotions, concerns, and triggers if you put yourself in their shoes. By recognizing and acknowledging these feelings, you can foster emotional intimacy, minimize conflicts, and foster understanding.

3. Prioritize Compromise Over Winning

The goal of conflicts shouldn't be to win, but to find a solution everyone can agree on. Compromise means meeting halfway, putting the relationship first. By embracing compromise as a strength, men can reduce conflict.

4. Develop Conflict Resolution Skills

Mastering conflict resolution takes patience, humility, and tact. It's possible to significantly deescalate conflicts and strengthen the marriage bond by learning how to manage emotions during disagreements, refraining from accusatory language, and focusing on collaborative problem-solving.

5. Foster Mutual Respect

Healthy relationships are built on respect. A respectful relationship begins with treating your partner with dignity, respecting their opinions, and valuing their contributions. A respectful and considerate attitude towards your spouse can reduce conflicts.

6. Embrace Active Support and Partnership

Being a supportive partner goes beyond words. You can solidify your partnership by actively participating in your partner's endeavors, sharing responsibilities, and offering unwavering support. Engaging in this way strengthens the relationship, reducing conflict.

7. Seek Professional Help When Needed

There's no shame in seeking guidance. If conflicts persist and seem insurmountable, seeking the assistance of a couples' therapist or counselor can provide valuable insights and tools to navigate challenging situations constructively.

Learn More

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