Lessons Learned from our recent Marital Conflicts

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Lessons Learned from our recent Marital Conflicts

On our walk last night, Seth and I were talking about our most recent marital conflicts and what we learned from them. I love that he loves to debrief and reflect after our spats. Can you tell he’s been with a therapist for 20 years? He’s learned a lot about parenting and marriage from me. I have learned a lot about business, marketing, finances, etc. from him. We wanted to share our lessons with you. I’m sure you will relate and learn with us.

Seth was rear ended on his way to his Krav Maga Martial Arts class. He is fine and his car has a minor dent that is getting fixed. We had breakfast together and picked up his rental car. I would like to pause and give Seth and I credit for a recent lunch date and breakfast date! Kudos to us for fitting in dates!

I had to drop him off at work because he had to get to a meeting, so he was at work without a car. Knowing the caretaker that I am at heart, you know that I was going to make sure he had a car to drive to his dinner at 5.

Seth tells me that he is going to walk to his dinner and then will proceed to walk home after his dinner. I told him he was being silly, and that Max and I would drop him off a car.

I instructed Max to stay home from school so he could help me bring Seth his rental car. I picked Lillie up from school, brought her home, and proceeded to bring Seth a car to work. Seth knew that I was doing this. When I got to his office to bring him the car, Seth said that he was down the street at a meeting that he had walked to. Is he kidding me? Why didn’t he tell me that he needed the car by X time because he had a meeting out of the office?

I was annoyed with my husband for his lack of communication with me and I proceeded to bring his keys upstairs and leave them there for him at work. He didn’t want me to bring him the car down the street and my son was getting impatient with me. Nothing like dealing with Seth and Max at the same time! I was perplexed and annoyed. I left the car and Max brought me home.

Lessons learned:

I assumed Seth was at work. I didn’t check in with him before I came. I also didn’t check life360 to see where he was. This is an app that my family is on for safety purposes. If you don’t have it – go get it!

Seth assumed I was bringing him his car right when Max got home from school. He didn’t realize I was picking up Lillie first. We both made assumptions which doesn’t tend to work.

Seth didn’t mind walking to his meeting, dinner and home. He didn’t feel the need to have a car and I couldn’t understand what his thought process was there. He didn’t care that he walked to his meeting, and I was upset that he didn’t tell me he needed to leave work and needed the car by a certain time =

It all comes down to a lack of communication! We were not communicating clearly with each other. Most conflicts come down to a lack of communication.

Seth and I were going over thoughts that we were both having that we weren’t telling each other which relates to the next conflict too.

I was time stressed between my daughters dance recitals. I wanted to find a restaurant we could walk to that was close by and would be quick. I looked at a few restaurants and chose one. It wasn’t the healthiest menu, but I figured it would be close and quick.

We leave Ella’s dance recital and walk to the restaurant. On the way there, we pass by a nicer restaurant. I quickly look at the menu and like it better and suggest staying there. It was closer and I knew I could eat something healthy. Seth and Ella were annoyed with me and kept walking. Seth kept walking and Ella followed saying she wanted to go to the other place.

I was annoyed for several reasons but kept walking. Was this place much further? I was nervous about making my MIL walk further. I knew my MIL and I would like this nicer restaurant better. I was wondering why Seth couldn’t be flexible and also model flexibility to Ella. By the time we made it to the restaurant I was visibly upset.

The restaurant we passed had nice tables outside. This place was dark and dreary and had a greasy menu. I gave Seth the evil eye as I proceeded to attempt several times to find something on the menu that I could attempt to eat. I was on a health kick and was doing so well. I realized I could have ordered one of the salads, but they didn’t look good.

I continue to tell Seth how annoyed I am with his lack of flexibility as this tends to be a pattern with him that aggravates me. He wants me to stick to something and I want him to be flexible.

We debrief:

Guess what? Once again, there was a lack of communication that was causing us issues.

When I told Seth the burger king (he loves burgers), that there was a stuffed burger place, he was excited to try it. Seth got attached to the idea of having a stuffed burger and was disappointed that I was changing the plan on him. Was he going to tell me this?

Had Seth said, “Honey, I really wanted to try a stuffed burger,” I would have shut up and gone there for him because I am a giving person who wants to make him happy. He didn’t tell me.

Ella wanted roast beef. Seth wanted a burger. I wanted the salmon at the restaurant that we just passed. I would have been willing to ditch my idea of what I wanted had he communicated. The whole conflict could have been avoided if he had told me his thoughts. I also realize that I could have stuck to the original plan and not changed my mind.

Seth tells me he doesn’t realize I need him to tell me things. Most of our conflicts could be avoided if we communicated with one another.

My being annoyed not knowing what time Seth is coming home (it’s different every day). Just shoot me a text each day with an approximate time.

My being annoyed that Seth wasn’t even at work when I brought him a car – tell me when you need the car by or explain that you would really enjoy walking to all your stuff that day.

My being annoyed that Seth wouldn’t let me change the recital restaurant plan – just tell me you were excited to try a stuffed burger.

These may seem like minor conflicts, but I feel like we learned a lot from them. Learning from these spats can help us to improve our marriage and prevent larger conflicts.

Some marital tips for all of us:

Communicate clearly and calmly to prevent misunderstandings. Don’t make assumptions. We have to remember that we can’t read each other’s minds.

Take responsibility – both of us could do better in almost every marital conflict. We have to look in the mirror at what we can do better and not just point a finger at our spouse.

Practice empathy – try to get in your partner’s shoes and understand where they are coming from. I couldn’t tell Seth that I wanted to eat healthier at a different restaurant because he kept walking. We didn’t understand what each other was thinking.

Compromise – marriage is a give and take. I couldn’t give to Seth because he wasn’t explaining that he wanted a stuffed burger. I would have easily compromised had I known that.

I statements! I feel sad when you keep walking. I would have loved for you to stop and talk to me so we could compromise calmly together. Avoid “you” statements and use “I” statements instead.

Stay calm and respectful! We both could have been calmer. I could have been nicer in both scenarios.

Regular Check Ins – How is your marriage going? Mine is going great, but I want to check in with you (each spouse could experience your marriage differently). What are we doing well? What could we do better? Let’s work on that together!

Debrief after conflicts to learn from them!

Active listening! Put your phone away. Turn off the tv. Look at each other and really listen. Don’t be quick to cut them off or be thinking about what you are going to say next. Focus on listening.

Communicate! Communicate! Communicate some more!

I hope that you took something away from this to improve your marriage. We would love to hear from you!

Laughing, Learning, Loving,

Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R


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By |2024-06-03T23:11:44+00:00June 3rd, 2024|Communication, Marriage|Comments Off on Lessons Learned from our recent Marital Conflicts

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About the Author:

Rebecca Greene received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology and her Master’s degree in social work at the University at Buffalo. She has experience working as a therapist and supervisor for families whose children had severe behavior problems. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years before diving back into work. Rebecca is a social worker, blogger, vlogger, podcaster and author. She lives at home with her husband Seth, their son Max, their daughters Ella and Lillie, their cats Faith and Joy and their dog Tanner. Rebecca’s full house keeps her very busy. She finds much joy in writing and loves connecting with the experts on her podcast.
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