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  • Writer's pictureChoosing Love

When Conflict Gets Messy In Marriage

“Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is

success.” – Henry Ford

We often talk about how fighting a “good fight” can actually bring spouses closer together.

A well-managed conflict can shed light on areas of your relationship that need

strengthening. It also gives the two of you a chance to solve problems as a team.

But sometimes, conflict gets messy. We might fail to listen to our spouse, say hurtful things,

or otherwise escalate a solvable issue. When this happens, you both need to know how to

take a step back, then take steps to repair any damage.


How often are we actually prepared to handle a conflict in our relationships? Most of the

time, we’re caught off-guard. If both of you aren’t ready for a conflict, then it’s definitely not

going to be a good fight.

When you and your spouse can sense a disagreement, you have the chance to pause and

collect yourselves. You can even assess whether you’re both ready to handle the situation

right away. Instead of diving right into the conflict, you might actually need to take a break first

Unfortunately, conflict can escalate before we have a chance to check in with ourselves. The

good news is, it’s perfectly fine to pause your fight and return to it when you’re both feeling

better. There’s a popular adage that suggests you should never go to sleep angry, but we

believe it’s sometimes necessary to step away from a conflict so you can come back fresh.

Several factors are almost guaranteed to cause a fight to escalate. Here are some questions

you need to ask yourselves if a conflict is getting out of hand:

  • Am I exhausted or stressed? Feeling exhausted, overwrought, stressed, or

  • Am I in a hurry? When you feel as though you don’t have enough time to

  • Am I feeling physical discomfort right now? If you have pain in your body or

  • Have I been able to process the situation the way I need to? Not taking the

  • How am I doing emotionally? Have you checked in with your emotional

Any one of these factors alone is reason enough to take a time-out. You can come back to

the conflict when you’re both ready to handle it in a more productive way.


When a fight gets out of hand, it’s bound to do damage beyond the inciting issue. If that

happens, you’ll need to work to repair the harm. Think of it as relationship damage control.

It’s best to prevent escalation before it happens. However, we know that’s not always

possible. So when you and your spouse sense that a conflict has compounded your

problems, it’s important to take a step back and decide how to make things right.

If you said something hurtful to your spouse during your fight, own up to it and apologize.

Going forward, take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Take pains to show them that

you’re willing to reconcile well so you don’t continue repeating the cycle.

Provided by Dr. Les and Leslie Parrot

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