“If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself.” Cheryl Richardson
One of the ladies in my membership, who I’ll refer to as Renee, was telling me about the tension that exists between her and her husband. They had gotten into an argument on the way to their son’s baseball game, and now they haven’t spoken to one another since.
While their marriage has been on shaky ground for years, it’s never been this bad. And now Renee is scared to bring anything up with him for fear of causing yet another argument and further resentments between them.
Renee is self-aware enough to know that she avoids conflict; not just in her marriage, but also with her peers at work, her family, and her friends. She would much prefer to ignore the situation, pretend she’s unbothered, and suppress any sore feelings, than to have a real conversation about a difficult topic.
But that avoidance tactic isn’t helping her.
- She doesn’t express her perspective.
- She doesn’t say how she feels.
- She doesn’t make her needs or preferences known.
This has resulted in her husband having no idea how upset she is, how hurt she is, and how she’s starting to feel more and more hopeless inside her marriage.
By being unwilling to have a difficult conversation with her husband, she’s avoiding a bit of discomfort, but she’s also sabotaging her marriage. She’s choosing to avoid feeling uncomfortable in the short-term, while setting her marriage up for failure in the long-term.
If she cannot express how she feels to her partner, the marriage can’t thrive, and it will never feel good to her. She’s unconsciously choosing to abandon herself in order to retain the marriage.
Not only that, but she’ll start to not feel good about herself and will grow to silently resent her husband for all the hurt that has gone unexpressed. When we don’t say something that needs to be said, it comes at the price of the conflict that is created within ourselves.
When we’re upset, I know the tendency is to bottle it up inside and pretend like everything is fine; but that’s a lie.
If there’s tension in your marriage (or any relationship for that matter), I want you to ask yourself: What are you NOT saying? In order for you to honor yourself, what needs to be expressed?
I often tell my clients: You can have an uncomfortable conversation with your spouse for 30-40 minutes…
You can have a lifetime of heartache. It’s a choice.
If you are struggling with having difficult conversations, expressing your needs, or setting healthy and loving boundaries for yourself inside your marriage, I can help. Here’s your next step forward.