Many years ago when we started courting, we did not know that our relationship would ever suffer severe storms. We were so “in love”, couldn’t do anything wrong in each other’s eyes. We were perfectly matched and we agreed on everything. It never occurred to us that we could ever be embroiled in conflict.

The honeymoon period was great but soon after, we found ourselves in a strange place of conflict. We became insensitive to each other, demanding and often fought over whose idea was the best. It was like someone uncovered dark hidden rooms deep in the palace of our relationship. All we focused on is trying to change each other to the other’s benefit but in a selfish way.

We didn’t know that trying to change each other was not a winning strategy. It was tiring and frankly an exercise in futility with little success. It seemed at the time that if we forced an issue long enough the other would be forced to admit and surrender. Sometimes it worked but it never resulted in a positive change of heart.

Fortunately, we learnt quickly thereafter that it was better for us to focus on things that we had more control over. We examined our hearts and determined that we shall not put our energies in trying to change each other. We discovered that our relationship improved greatly when we stopped looking for change outside our individual self.

We did this by constantly asking ourselves the following questions:

1. How important is my relationship to me when compared to the other things I desire?

2. Am I acting in a manner that helps foster a healthy relationship? How willing am I in creating an atmosphere where we can share and negotiate freely?

3. My spouse may never agree on somethings because we are different. What then do I do mitigate my own frustrations over this?

In a healthy relationship, couples will find themselves in conflict from time to time. Conflict is caused primarily due to our individual differences, upbringing, preferences, biology, culture etc. When we understand and even anticipate this, and treat each other with respect, then our relationship changes for the better.

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