I refer to the article, When Chalk and Cheese Collide, published in The Straits Times on October 20, 2013. It is important to remember that while “chalk-and-cheese relationships are not necessarily doomed from the start”, understanding healthy conflict resolution will go a long way in helping these relationships weather the distance.
Many couples may try to sidestep or hide their conflict because disagreements are uncomfortable and, at times, painful. Internalizing conflict gives way for resentments to build and, over time, may cause significant damage to the relationship. Avoiding disagreements to maintain ‘peace at any price’ may not always be the best solution for a marriage.
Conflict resolution involves a commitment to listening, respecting, encouraging and understanding your spouse. According to Mitch Temple, Marriage and Family Therapist, “Some of the closest moments a couple can experience often arrive after resolving conflicts”.
While healthy conflict resolution is good, couples must also understand that not every difference in opinion must be resolved. Agreeing to disagree on some issues also means that there is no harboring of resentment if differences are not settled.
Key issues such as having children, setting life goals, choosing where to live and household budgeting should be agreed upon and resolved if differences arise. Other differences that may arise from issues like where to go on vacation or whether or not you should have pets are matters that warrant an agreement to disagree.
Giving each other “personal space” to pursue different interests does help a marital relationship. However, constantly spending extended time away from your spouse, risks a marriage drifting apart. It is important to look for common interests that a couple can enjoy together. Intentional ‘couple alone time’ can revive any marriage, no matter how different each party is.
Content Strategist (Marriage)
Focus on the Family Singapore