Being the bigger person isn’t easy, especially in a marriage. Sometimes, you may feel justified in your emotions, but being right doesn’t necessarily make for a happy marriage.
Then there are times when you feel you should keep your mouth shut to avoid conflict. But, unfortunately, that’s not always good because often, the hurt lies dormant within you, and as soon as another argument pops up, you explode.
Conflict in a marriage is something that easily occurs. However, resolving that conflict can be challenging because some couples discover that unresolved issues can accumulate and hurt over time. In many cases, this leads to frequent conflicts, which eventually cause resentment toward your partner.
To combat these feelings, create peace in your marriage by working to uncover and face your issues.
If you want to resolve conflict in your relationship, here are 14 ways to extend be the bigger person.
1. Own Up to Your Mistakes
The best way to make wounds fester and become bigger over time is to avoid responsibility for your bad decisions and the hurtful things you say to your spouse.
It’s easy to make a mistake but hard to admit wrongdoing. However, if you want peace in your relationship, you need to bite the bullet and be the bigger person. If you do, your spouse will be more likely to forgive your errors much sooner.
8 Ways to De-stress Your Marriage
Stress is the root cause of many health issues in the U.S. Depression, heart disease, and hypertension are only a few problems. In marriages, stress is a leading cause of tension and dysfunctional relationships.
The good news is; it’s avoidable. When both parties are aware of the issues, they can take steps to avoid them. Here are things you can do to help reduce stress in your marriage.
- Put your spouse first. You can’t make people happy, including your spouse. However, you can add to their content rather than stress them further.
- Make some together time. Time with your spouse should not be last on the list. Instead, be intentional and carve out time to hang out together. For instance, this could be relaxing at home, watching a movie, or going on a mini staycation.
- Pick your battles. Not everything is a discussion. Stop nitpicking at the little things and learn to let it go, and move on. So often, when we have arguments, we concentrate on the negative. When you focus on the positive, you’re not as bothered anymore.
- Be clear in your communication. Many arguments begin over misunderstandings, so communicate clearly and respectfully. Additionally, keep your spouse in the loop with what’s happening in your life.
- Don’t lie. Be open and honest with your spouse. It creates stress when you tell a lie because you must remember each lie. In addition, it creates stress for your spouse because tensions arise when they catch you in an untruth.
- Be more affectionate. Physical contact is one way to reduce stress. Plus, it feels good to know someone adores you. It doesn’t have to be grand gestures because affection comes in many forms. For example, next time you walk through the store, hold your spouse’s hand or gently squeeze their leg when sitting in a movie theater. Sometimes, it’s the small things that make the biggest difference.
- Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Many times, couples see another couple doing well and try to compete. This creates a whole other level of stress in a marriage. Instead, live within your means and stop spending money on things you can’t afford. This only causes you to work twice as hard to sustain your extravagant lifestyle. It also means you’ll have less time to spend with your family.
- Volunteer together. Volunteering is one of the best ways to realize how fortunate you are, and doing it together is even better. Work at a soup kitchen or volunteer with a faith-based community like a church or a spiritual center. Immerse yourselves in charitable causes and watch your relationship strengthen.
2. Eliminate Stress
Find out what causes stress in the household and get rid of it. Part of your plan to keep the peace should be to purge all unnecessary stress.
For example, you both work full-time jobs, but your child has soccer, ice skating, and tennis lesson, and unfortunately, you don’t have the time to take your child to all three.
You’ve had countless discussions over this, and each time it’s ended in an argument. So what are the solutions?
Instead of three activities, sign up your child for the one they enjoy the most. Another option is to leave work early to take your child to practice one day, and your spouse can do it the following two times. So again, there are solutions, but you need to sit down and come to an agreement.
3. Be First to Apologize
It doesn’t matter if your spouse is in the wrong alongside you. What matters is whether you’re willing to extend the olive branch first by apologizing for your hand in the mistake.
Don’t wait for your spouse to come to you. If you have something you should apologize for, do it. Doing so will open the door for your spouse to say “I’m sorry” for their part in the error. Just be sure to only apologize if you have something to apologize for. Otherwise, it seems trite and condescending.
4. Add Things to Your Life to Give You Peace
After a heated disagreement, the last thing you want to do is to suggest hanging out with your spouse. So, give yourself time and peace by taking care of yourself first.
Of course, self-care is at the top of the list, so take care of your needs first. Do things you enjoy to help you relax, like hiking, watching a TV show, or listening to a podcast. Whatever it takes to fill your cup, do that. Becoming a better person will trickle down into the relationship and inspire your partner to do the same.
When you feel relaxed enough, suggest focusing on your relationship. Then, you can do all the above things together, and why not add a date night where it’s just the two of you in a cozy restaurant?
It’s been a while, so carve out time to have deep conversations so you can learn more about each other. So often, couples think they know everything about their spouse because they’ve been married for so long.
However, they neglect to remember that the person you were ten years ago isn’t the same person you are today. For example, when you first met, you liked disco, but now you enjoy opera. Get reacquainted with your spouse, so you can start trying new things together.
5. Help Your Spouse Face the Issues Together
What’s better than facing your challenges, conflicts, and issues? How about facing them together? The two of you are stronger together than you are apart. So, if only one is fighting the everyday battles, it may lead to conflict and resentment.
Instead, join forces to find ideas and solutions that will lead you away from the problem and toward a peaceful and happy solution you can agree upon.
6. Get Your Finances Together
Finances are still among the top three reasons why couples get divorced. Many disagreements have started over spending habits. If you have another argument over money–and most likely you will–initiate a conversation about possibly creating a monthly budget.
No one likes the B-word, but think about it like this; when creating a budget, you can find ways to save on expenses so you can start taking short, overnight trips to help rekindle your relationship. Or, you can save to start renovating your home. Create a common goal and work toward that together.
7. Don’t Brush Things Off
Many marriages have unresolved conflicts beneath the surface. Unfortunately, when they aren’t addressed, they tend to get bigger and bigger until they become more challenging. Never hide from your issues, and don’t sweep them under the rug.
Instead, face your problems head-on by acknowledging their presence. Doing so will make them less likely to grow and get out of control.
8. Bite Your Tongue
Sometimes you need to keep quiet in order to keep the peace. People often speak before they think and end up saying hurtful things they can’t take back. It can be difficult to control your temper when the going gets rough or you’re in a heated argument.
However, to find peace, think about what you say before speaking it. Doing so can save you worlds of trouble.
9. Become Active Together
Stress is a significant factor when it comes to arguments. So how do you combat this? The first step is to change your diet. Eating healthier will help you and your spouse feel better. The next step is to incorporate exercise. Taking care of your body gives you more energy and fewer aches and pains. Exercise also helps you improve your quality of life.
Once you feel better mentally and physically, approach your partner and see if they would like to go for a stroll through the neighborhood. If they decline because they’re still upset, that’s OK. You are in a better frame of mind; eventually, your spouse will feed off that energy and get into a better headspace.
10. Always Be Intentional
After years, it’s easy to become complacent in a marriage. However, you must be deliberate if you want it to be successful. Your relationship should come first, so spend time together by doing recreational things like playing games, cooking, or going to a movie.
Even if you’re not having trouble in your relationship, initiate weekly check-ins with each other to see how your partner is doing emotionally. By checking in regularly, you can eliminate future problems.
11. Initiate a Discussion
Like many couples, you and your spouse can walk around in the same house and not speak to each other for days, sometimes weeks.
Silence in the home can cause unnecessary tension and, let’s face it, doesn’t feel good. You want to tell your partner about the great day you had at work, or you need a sounding board to listen to your problems, and you can’t do that when you’re not speaking to each other.
Stop allowing your pride to keep the silent treatment going. Instead, initiate a conversation with your partner. Ask them if it’s a good time to talk. If not, set aside an hour later on to discuss the issues. When you have the discussion, try your best not to rehash the issue. Instead, be calm and focus on the solution.
12. Speak Your Truth Respectfully
Sometimes you have to speak about things your spouse doesn’t want to hear. So, when you lay all your cards on the table, approach them lovingly and respectfully.
For example, if your spouse is doing something that is hurting your marriage or family, you should discuss it in a calm and non-confrontational way. It could be addiction or some other hurtful behavior. Your family’s well-being is at stake, so you should speak up.
Instead of yelling and blaming your spouse for destroying your marriage, tell them how you feel and how their behavior hurts the family.
13. Make Your Home a Priority
Creating a peaceful and serene home environment isn’t your sole responsibility. Your spouse also has an obligation, so you should jointly prioritize it.
You can’t control your spouse’s (or anyone’s) emotions. The only person you can control is you. So, if you want a peaceful household, don’t rely on anyone but yourself to achieve this.
However, it helps if you’re both on the same page, or you will likely end up working against each other, creating more strife in your home.
14. Get Help
If the marriage is in trouble and you can’t find peace on your own, it’s OK to ask for assistance. Confide in a friend, mentor, pastor, or counselor to help determine your next steps toward establishing peace and well-being in your household. If you can, get your spouse on board so you can all work together to find solid ground.
Being the bigger person isn’t about being right. It’s about taking accountability when needed and helping your partner do the same. Once you understand this, you will have a happier and healthier marriage.