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A research done by Surinder Singh Joshi and Dr.

Balram Gupta titled A Detailed Study on


Causes of Matrimonial Disputes in India, was recently published in the International Journal of
Education and Applied Research. The research highlighted some reasons of matrimonial disputes
escalating into a divorce. The major causes of divorce included; financial issues, intimacy
problems , unwelcoming habits, responsibility, in-laws, , become lost in individual roles and
neglect each other, unmet expectations, different priorities and interests and most importantly
lack of communication and the inability to resolve conflicts and differences.

Some marriages operating on the principle of an insult for an insult are doomed to failure.
Spouses become extremely proficient at trading insultsabout the way he looks, the way she
cooks, or the way he drives, the way she cleans the house and the list is endless. They do not
know any other way to relate to each other and are so engaged in this game that they fail to see
the negative impressions they create on their children, family and friends. On the other hand, if a
couple never fights or argues, it may be a sign that, they are not fully communicating with each
other in order to "keep the peace in the relationship, which could be detrimental. Similarly,
being passive aggressive and giving a silent treatment to the partner is also not an effective
strategy for healthy relationships.

J. Allan Peterson noted that "most people get married believing a myth that marriage is a
beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: companionship, sexual fulfillment,
intimacy, friendship. The truth is that marriage, at the start, is an empty box. You must put
something in it before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage; love is in people,
and people put it into marriage." Marriage is a union of two individuals who come from totally
different cultures, traditions, heritages, habits and values; hence conflict is common to all
marriages. The question then should be: How should one deal with it?

Marital Masters are couples who are good at handling their conflicts. Many such couples
summarize their experiences and state; strong relationships are built on the foundation of being
able to talk about and talk through, issues and challenges. It takes two to make it work. When
communication stops, whether literally or practically, the relationship will begin to die.
Authentic communication is the source of content, happy relationships. A couples conflict
resolution skills can determine if it leads to oneness or isolation. Resolving conflicts requires,
knowing, accepting and adjusting to individual differences. It requires loving confrontation with
grace, tactfulness, wisdom, patience and humility but devoid of selfishness.

Some practical tips recommended by experts and marriage counsellors worth considering are;
Check for motivation. Will your words help or hurt? Will bringing this up cause healing,
wholeness, and oneness, or further isolation? Choose wisely between being right and
being happy.
Check for attitude. Loving confrontation says, I care about you. I respect you and I want
you to respect me. I want to know how you feel and let you know how I feel. Be
mindful of the fact that each one of us come into the relationship with some emotional
baggage from the past, which colors our perceptions in the present. When speaking,
speak from your heart; be emotional, spontaneous and instinctive. While listening; listen,
with acceptance and compassion. Seek to understand views, and ask questions to clarify
perspectives.
Check the circumstances. This includes timing, location, setting and context.
Confronting your spouse, when he/she is tired from a hard days work or in the middle of
settling a squabble between the children is not a good idea. Also, criticizing, making fun
of or arguing with your spouse in public and involving your children or parents to take
sides are completely off-limits.
Fight fair. During the discussion, stick to one issue at a time. Do not bring up several
piled up past issues. Do not save up a series of complaints and let your spouse have them
all at once.
Focus on the problem, rather than the person. For example, your spouse is an extravagant
spender and finances are going haywire, you need a budget. Work through the plans for
finances and make the lack of budget the enemy, not your spouse.
Focus on behavior rather than character. Use you message versus the I messages.
You can assassinate your spouses character and stab him right into the heart with you
messages like, Youre always lateyou dont care about me at all; you dont care about
anyone but yourself. The I message would say, I feel frustrated when you dont let
me know youll be late. I would appreciate if you would call so we can make other plans
and have options.
Focus on the facts rather than judging motives. If your spouse forgets to make an
important call or book the doctors appointment, deal with the consequences of what you
both have to do next rather than say, Youre so careless; you just do things to irritate
me. Let the past mistakes go by and not allow them to mess with your present moments
which could impact your future together.
Marriage can be challenging and can be even more so when you throw unrealistic
expectations/demands into the mix. Give yourself and your partner a break and allow
each other to be human. Do not be afraid to express what you want and what you hope to
get from the relationship.

Finally, the key to maintaining an open, intimate, and happy marriage is to ask for and grant
forgiveness quickly. No matter how hard two people try to love and please each other, they will
sometimes fail. With failure comes hurt. And the only ultimate relief for hurt is the soothing
balm of forgiveness. Forgiveness means giving up resentment and the desire to punish. Having
the humility to say, Im sorry is important because it breaks down barriers and nurtures a heart
to be tender and caring. Saying sorry and genuinely meaning it will not magically fix a
marriage but it goes a long way in creating and sustaining marital happiness.

Author Dr. Farida Virani


Dr. Farida Virani

Dr. Farida Virani has a Ph.D. and specializes in HR and Behavioural Sciences. She currently
holds the position of Professor & HOD at MET Institute of Management, Mumbai.
Internationally Certified Mediator, she mediates family disputes and is Master Trainer for
Mediation Skills, engaged with the International Conciliation and Arbitration Board (AKF). A
renowned Corporate Trainer, she also conducts Pre- and Post-Marital Workshops for Couples,
helping them explore their expectations of themselves and of each other and supporting them
while they work on their relationship challenges or any existing conflict.