The Effects of Unresolved Conflict on the Longevity of a Marital Relationship

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  • Topic: Marriage, Interpersonal relationship, Conflict
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  • Published : April 18, 2011
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“The Effects of Unresolved Conflict On The Longevity Of A Marital Relationship & Five Ways To Resolve Conflict”
Jennifer L. Twigger
Liberty University Online


Longitudinal studies on the early years of marriage report that marital satisfaction declines and conflict increases within the first 6 years of marriage, with the greatest drop occurring in the first 2 years. (Huston & Houts, 2001) While commitment and communication are major things that contribute to this decline; it is not everything. Research has found another critical variable in the course of marital satisfaction is the occurrence of conflict. Conflict is inevitable in any intimate relationship. How it affects satisfaction depends on the extent to which couples engage in conflict or withdraw from it. There are usually short-term negative effects to engaging in conflict, but there are also long-term positive effects. If conflict is not openly addressed, but avoided, many issues can be left unresolved. This will further, fuel feelings of resentment and anger. Another major issue is when spouses bring unresolved conflict into their marriage from the past, there is reported a low marital satisfaction. Often, these couples lack the motivation and necessary skill to engage in the kinds of relationship maintenance behaviors that cultivate high levels of contentment. For example, these couples often struggle with accommodating the other during conflict, managing jealousy, and being willing to sacrifice. Thus, unresolved conflict has a major impact on the longevity of a marriage.

According to the December 2009 statistics from the US Census Bureau, there are about 2.2 million married people in the United States (Wood, L, 2010). That number is not small; it shows how important marriage is in our society. God designed the marriage to be an expression of deep and pleasurable intimacy revealing the unity that exists within; thus, an extension of God Himself. Although, it’s God’s idea for marriage to be a happy harmony between husband and wife, that is not always the case. When two separate individuals get together, conflict at some point in time, is bound to manifest. Conflict, left unresolved, can have treacherous effects on the longevity of a marriage relationship; either it will destroy God’s plan or end the marriage altogether. It’s not only the little things, left unresolved, that bring disaster, but it’s the past hurts that travel into present day relationships, which bring chaos. A better understanding of unresolved conflicts, its origin, types, consequences, and solutions will better equip married couples to find peace and harmony in pursuing a stable home with long term success in their relationship. So, what is unresolved conflict? How does past projection affect a current day marriage? How do the little things left unresolved wreak havoc on the longevity of a relationship? And finally, how can a couple learn to quickly and properly resolve conflict? Unresolved Conflict Defined

Every marriage faces conflict at some point. Actually, conflict is inevitable in any relationship no matter how educated or amiable the individual partners are. Conflict handled properly can create a strong and flourishing marriage. The danger occurs when conflict is left unresolved. According to the dictionary, unresolved conflict is defined as when an issue is not brought to a conclusion or goes unsettled ( Conflicts often consist of, but are not limited to oppositions, differences, struggles, battles or disagreements within a relationship. For example, common disagreements can range from which religious upbringing the children will be raised with to whether or not to squeeze a toothpaste tube from the bottom or middle. Conflicts that go unresolved, whether brought into the marriage from past experiences or the “everyday little things” in a present day marriage can have substantial...
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