The fact that a man remains a husband makes him not only a survivor, but a person who understands marriage. Yet, each day, a husband is faced with temporary defeats that if allowed, will rob the marriage of lasting relationship and happiness.
‘Marriage is a long journey, not a destination. It demands a strong and positive self-imaged man called a husband to command it.’
Hopefully, a husband must also understand that the future of the marriage relationship rests in the lessons he learns from these temporary set-backs. One set-back is conflict in the home. Once couples are married, they have to deal with the inevitability of arguments and conflict. Couples who deal poorly with arguments and conflict build up a history of negative emotional interactions that erodes marital satisfaction.
‘Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.’ (1 Peter 3:7-9)
‘Men are protectors and maintainers of women…’ (Qur’an, 4:34)
Karney and Bradbury reviewed a few studies on marital satisfaction and created the vulnerability-stress-adaptation model. As the name implies, the vulnerability-stress-adaptation model involves three main concepts:
© Vulnerability – each partner brings strengths and weaknesses to the relationship, including personality, beliefs and attitudes about marriage, and social background.
© Stress – various life events can cause the partners to experience tension and aggravation.
© Adaptation – the partners engage in processes to deal with conflict, which vary in terms of how the partners communicate and support each other.
How well couples handle conflict and stress depends on their vulnerabilities, the kinds of stresses they face, and their processes of adaptation. Couples, who handle conflict and stress poorly to the extent of inviting third parties, become less and less satisfied with their relationships over time.
Every husband must be able to identify and practice the best means and form to resolve conflict between him and his wife.
A married man is an effective and efficient husband when he is an active peacemaker, i.e. building bridges of common understanding in order to achieve a long term relationship.
Should you reason, agree, apologize, fight or leave? Which is your benefit and to the benefit of those you must protect? Arguing often makes your wife defensive and determined to prevail. As much as possible avoid conflict but if it occurs, below are general principles that every husband must adopt in conflict resolution at home:
- Remain calm and detached.
- Let go of your anger. It only clouds the issue and draws you into a quick response.
- Allow your wife to rage while you consider the appropriate response.
- Whenever possible, use kindness as a weapon against evil.
- Neutralize shouting with soft words.
- Answer threats with serene confidence.
- Speak plainly.
- Don’t use foul language or sarcasm.
- Breathe deeply with long exhalations.
- Maintain your presence. Don’t exaggerate.
- Think about an interesting time you had together
- Don’t lie.
- Attack the argument and not the person.
- Don’t invite a third party.
- Pray for your wife.
In fact, husbands who use humour and gentleness to soothe the feelings of their wives, and who respond calmly to the negative emotional expressions of their wives, are more likely to resolve conflicts in the home. Other characteristics which do not help in conflict resolution in the home are:
- Criticism – instead of complaining about behaviour, you attack your partner’s personality or character, usually with blame. Criticism of personality also comes in the form of listing complaints about past behaviours and thereby suggesting a character fault.
- Contempt – contempt is criticism that is intended to insult and psychologically abuse a partner. Contempt reflects a very negative view of your partner.
- Defensiveness - defensiveness is a way of avoiding taking responsibility for setting things right by denying responsibility, making excuses, attributing negative thoughts to partners, using one’s own complaints to counter a partner’s complaints, and simply repeating oneself.
- Stonewalling - stonewalling is a break down of communication. The partners turn into ‘stone walls’ and stop responding to communication.
Also, a husband as a diplomat must use his creativity and imagination to turn unpleasant lessons into pleasant ones in the future. This calls for the husband to occasionally sit down and reflect on the success and apparent failures that the marriage has gone through.
As the husband reflects, he must ask himself what went well, what didn’t go well, what could have been done differently in the future to get the best results. A husband can’t expect to obtain happiness in the marriage from doing more of the things that aren’t working. Although, some things take practice in order to gain comfort, a husband is not seeing improvements and results from certain practice, that’s a good sign that, he is doing or taking the wrong approach.