5 Ways to Manage Conflicts Effectively in Marriage

In Islam, there are a few techniques on how to handle conflicts and how to avoid them at all costs, because prevention is always better than cure!

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In Islam, there are a few techniques on how to handle conflicts and how to avoid them at all costs, because prevention is always better than cure!

Conflicts in marriage are inevitable and they are bound to happen again and again along the way in your marital life. No relationship is perfect, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to think that the slightest bit of conflict or mistake will hurt your relationship.

However, what could make a difference is the intensity of your arguments and how you manage them. 

In Islam, there are a few techniques on how to handle conflicts and how to avoid them at all costs, because prevention is always better than cure! Remember that Allah Almighty has created men and women for a reason. It is always something we should contemplate on:

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them, and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed there are signs for people who give thought.” [Quran, 30:21]

Do you deal with your conflicts positively? Or do you deal with them negatively?

We will later discuss what are the possible causes of conflicts, what a healthy argument entails, and a step-by-step process on how to manage your conflicts effectively for a longer and more prosperous marriage, InshaAllah.

Possible Causes of Conflicts

Believe it or not, spouses argue over the most trivial and unimportant things. You might think they’re not even worth the energy, but it is in fact a norm that we shouldn’t be normalising. We should instead focus our energies on increasing productivity and quality of life and marriage.

There are a few causes of conflicts you should probably be aware of:

  1. Spouses criticize one another
  2. Spouses are often hot-tempered
  3. Sarcasm or sarcastic tone
  4. Name-calling
  5. Lack of effective marriage communication with your spouse
  6. Misunderstanding each other’s message and tone
  7. Spouses having trust issues
  8. Having different marriage expectations
  9. Grudging over previous unresolved conflicts
  10. Having differences in opinions

There are a million other causes of conflict and it varies from one household to another. If you happen to face any one of these issues with your spouse, don’t panic and don’t feel pressured.

We are always led to believe that we shouldn’t have any conflicts with our spouses, but it is just simply unrealistic to go about our years of marital life completely stress-free!

Let’s look at the signs of a healthy and a non-healthy argument you should be aware of.

5 Signs of a Healthy Conflict

Well, no argument is healthy, but it is better to take control of the situation and minimise damage by exercising effective coping mechanisms and communication.

Do you possess any of these signs? Here’s a checklist for you:

  1. You don’t interrupt while your spouse is talking and vice versa
  2. You and your spouse try to understand each other’s grain of perspective
  3. You and your spouse use a decent tone of voice
  4. You and your spouse don’t exaggerate the issue
  5. There IS a solution at the end of the conversation

5 Signs of an Unhealthy Conflict

Unfortunately, there are many ways more than one for an argument to go wrong. A person can be so emotionally manipulative that you can’t even see the signs.

However, if you check any of these boxes, don’t worry! It is not the end of the world. There is always time to fix things:

  1. You and your spouse blame each other each other
  2. You and your spouse argue about more than one issue at a time
  3. Negative body language such as avoiding eye contact and crossing your arms
  4. You and your spouse focus too much on differences
  5. There is no solution and your energy is drained

5 Ways to Manage Conflicts Effectively

Now that you know some of the signs of a healthy and unhealthy conflict, let’s really learn and understand how to confront your spouse effectively and ensure that your time and energy doesn’t go to waste in managing your conflicts.

1. It’s best to calm down first

Whether you’re in the heat of the moment or you just can’t think straight, it’s best to take time and calm yourself down first. Your peace of mind is truly essential to ensure that you initiate a healthy argument with your spouse. If you begin the argument in a restless state of mind, anger, and frustration, you might start off on the wrong foot. 

Even our beloved Prophet Peace and Blessings be upon him encouraged us to stay silent when we have nothing good to say, and change the positions of our bodies when we are afflicted with the fire of anger.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must either speak good or remain silent.” [Muslim]

Narrated Abu Dharr:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to us: When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down. [Sunan Abi Dawud]

2. Rectify your perception on what marriage is all about

As they say, opposites attract and while they do, decades of marriage sometimes result in spouses being totally despised of each other’s differences. Remember, no two people are alike and both of you will have to come to a middle ground to be able to tolerate each other.

At the end of the day, Allah Almighty didn’t create us all the same or equal. Each of us are built uniquely, and the essence of marriage is purely accepting, embracing, and adjusting to each other’s differences.

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَـٰكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَآئِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” [Quran 49:13]

It is worth noting that Allah Almighty specifically said ‘ye may know each other’, symbolising that we aren’t similar at all, and it requires a continuous effort of getting to know each other.

3. Confront your spouse in a decent manner

Shaykh Faid Mohamed Said in one of the Islamic lessons organised by SimplyIslam Academy that the Companions in the past were absolutely eloquent and decent in manner when managing conflicts between them and their spouses. 

A companion was willing to travel far to meet Sayidina Umar radiallahu anhu, to discuss his marital problems with him in secret. Even then, Sayidina Umar told him to be patient and understand his wife, for the wife’s sacrifice for the family is immense. 

There are two things to highlight from this short story; the companion’s willingness to travel far to meet a reliable and knowledgeable person to discuss the issue, and the sincere advice Sayidina Umar provided him.

Spouses today are so quick to share and complain about their partners to friends and family, and worse, on social media. This won’t solve a thing, and in fact, will worsen the situation!

The right thing to do is keep your marital problems a secret from the eyes of the public, confront your spouse in a decent and polite manner, listen to them attentively, be open-minded, be objective and stay on topic, and finally reach a solution together towards harmony and tranquility. 

4. Avoid the ‘you’ and make it ‘I’

What we mean by avoiding the ‘you’ statement is to try your best to halt from blaming your spouse. Statements like ‘You did this!’ or ‘You’re the one who…’ will only make you and your partner defensive and unlikely to solve the problem since everyone’s pointing fingers at each other.

Instead, use the ‘I’ statements which really focus on how you feel about the situation, how it has hurt you, and how you think it can be solved if both of you work for it. Some of the statements you can utilise are as follows:

  • I feel [insert emotion] when [explain the situation] because [why do you think it affects you]. I’d like/ I’d appreciate it if you [explain your expectation or what you need from them]. Would you consider [reiterate the expectation again and ask permission]?
  • I appreciate that you [your spouse’s action] but would you consider if you could [your expectation]? I’d really appreciate that.
  • I understand where you’re coming from but I feel [insert emotion] because [why do you think it affects you]. Do you think we could come to an agreement on how to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

When you begin to make it a ‘you’ problem and not a ‘them’ problem, it gives your spouse the ability to help you minimise conflict without being too defensive.

5. Be ready to forgive or seek forgiveness

At the end of the day, the whole point of arguing is to seek clarity and solace in each other. Whether you’ve committed the mistake or your partner, both of you should always be ready to forgive or seek forgiveness as you will be living with your partner for a very long time, InshaAllah.

There is no point in being defensive, knowing you or your partner is in the right, or ‘winning’ in an argument. In marriage, either both of you win or lose and that is your decision to make. 

Remember, conflicts are inevitable and they will happen every now and then in your marriage. The key to a healthy relationship is to keep your minds open, be willing to admit when wrong, practice effective communication, find a middle ground and reach a solution together.

May Allah keep your marriage alive and joyful, in the Shade of His Mercy and Blessings, InshaAllah.