No two people are alike so therefore no two people desire the same exact things. One of the beautiful skills to master in a relationship is healthy conflict resolution with closeness and intimacy as a result. This skill takes work and a lot of practice. If you find yourself in need of a guide of sorts, the 8 principles below from Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend’s, Boundaries in Marriage, are highly affecting in creating a structural approach to managing conflicting desires in a marital relationship.
- Avoid Moralizing Your Preference – There are multiple ways to clean a bathroom or create a budget. Your desire may feel like it is the right or appropriate way, but in reality it is just a preference based on your experience and personality. Neither preference is higher than the other.
- Empathize with and Understand the Importance of Your Spouse’s Desires -Our greatest inner longing is to be accepted and worthy so validating and empathizing are the two most important qualities to implement when engaging with a differing desire.
- Move to Meet Your Spouse’s Desires Before You Meet Your Own – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If both partners are operating out of this space, most arguments will be avoided.
- If Necessary, Keep an Account of Yours, Mine, and Ours – If one partner tends to be more passive and the other dominant, feel free to keep track of “who’s turn it is” to spend time/money in order to create a fair and balanced decision-making process.
- Don’t Define an “I” Choice as a “We” Choice – Recognizing when you are making a choice for yourself and be willing to own that as your desire rather than assuming it is a couple’s desire.
- Make Sure “We’s” Are Agreed Upon -This requires the more passive partner to speak up! Create a signature agreement style that requires each person to affirm a decision before it becomes a done deal.
- Question Your Preferences – Reflecting on why you do the things you do is one of the healthiest habits you can employ. Search your heart and motives and get to the true desire. If this is a struggle, individual counseling is a great avenue to explore.
- Expand and Grow – Be willing to try things that are out of your comfort zone. Creating new shared experiences can promote intimacy and connection that the same ole same ole just can’t produce.