People often ask me what is the most common cause of conflict in a marriage. If I asked you the same question, you would probably guess money and you would be right, but only partially. My response is always that couples most frequently fight about tiny, insignificant problems. But how is that possible? America has a 50% divorce rate, so how could insignificant problems be what are destroying our marriages?
Well, once couples reach the point of contemplating divorce, their problems have become so big that there doesn’t seem to be any way to solve them. But the problems didn’t start out that way. Rather, they started out as small, inconsequential issues that slowly grew way out of control. This is what I call the snowball effect. If you start rolling a snowball down a snowy slope, it starts off small but gains speed and mass as it rolls down the hill. By the time it gets to the bottom, it’s huge, and when it hits something, it’s instantly smashed to pieces. Stop Your Divorce
Your marriage may now be dealing with a huge issue, but it started off as a tiny snowball. Instead of dealing with it at the outset, and communicating with your spouse to resolve the issue, you’ve let it grow into a humongous ball of icy snow barreling towards you at top speed, and neither you nor your partner know how to stop it. It feels like you’ve reached a point of no return, but if you’d dealt with it when it was just a minor issue, you never would have ended up here.
If you ignore the little problems, they’ll start rolling down that hill and eventually turn into gigantic deal breakers for your relationship . So no matter how large or small your problems might be right now, if you want to resolve conflicts and turn your marriage around, you must apply the RWID technique. RWID stands for “relative weight in importance and duration.” It’s really just a fancy way of determining how important an issue actually is in the long term. Think about two weeks from now, two months from now, and two years from now. If you don’t deal with the problem, what happens two years down the road? If you and your spouse can’t move past the issue, how big of a problem does it become two years from now?
Sometimes, when you apply this technique and look forward to future ramifications, you can easily see that whatever you’re upset about isn’t even worth it. Is it really going to matter two months from now that your spouse forgot to set out the garbage for pickup that one day? Is it worth getting worked up over, or starting conflict over? On the other hand, some problems you can see growing into larger issues over time. Does your spouse habitually forget to put out the cans? Are you going to become increasingly resentful about it if you don’t confront the problem now?
A lot of couples end up not knowing what it is that they’re fighting over or why they’re so angry in the first place. Arguing can become a habit, especially because arguments are an unproductive form of communication in which neither party really listens to the other and nothing really gets resolved. Think about the last time you got into a fight with your spouse. What were you fighting about? Now think about how important that thing you were fighting about really was. Should you have just let it go, or was it something that could potentially become big enough to cause serious problems in your relationship down the road?
You need to start looking at every argument this way. Ask yourself how important the issue really is, and if you would be better served simply by letting it go. For this technique to work, both you and your spouse need to work together as a team and apply the RWID technique to every conflict you encounter.
The next time you get into an argument with your partner, ask yourself if the thing you’re fighting about will still matter two months from now. If the answer is no, then respectfully tell your partner that there is no sense in fighting over it because in the long run, it’s something trivial. Agree to a truce, and work it out right then and there.
In the beginning, this might feel weird, but over time you will retrain yourself to develop better habits. Why waste time and energy arguing over small potatoes? You’ll have a much happier, healthier relationship if you apply this one simple technique and learn to let go of the things that don’t really matter.