Unresolved conflict

Whenever two people, two personalities, two characters are in a relationship of any kind for an extended period of time, there will be conflicts. There will be disagreements. There will be competing points of view. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, it is absolutely healthy. When this happens, there are many things that can result. Which of these possibilities occurs is vastly less important than how you handle yourself in these times.

Certainly, one thing that can happen is that after a more in depth analysis one side or the other can realize that they were incorrect, misinformed or somehow just wrong. Hopefully, that party will be humble enough to accept this realization and equally importantly the other party will be just as humble and gracious.

Another possibility is that both parties realize that the issue at hand isn’t that important anyway and decide to drop it with or without any determination. This is not avoiding the subject but more a realization that it doesn’t matter and definitely isn’t worth a conflict between each other.

But there is another outcome that I have never heard discussed in any forum. It is the acceptance of unresolved conflict. I am not talking about pretending to be a martyr and wearing your badge of “I am the better person” accepting that you are wrong and not pointing it out over and over, when your really finding plenty of ways to make it known. I am also not referring to either party having to suck it up and swallow their feelings. That is so damaging. I am really talking about accepting unresolved conflict. Acknowledging that your wife and yourself cannot come to an agreement, setting it aside, and not begrudging her in any way. Whether you are wrong, possibly right or even if you are certain than you are right.

It is absolutely possible to be in complete disagreement on a certain topic and have it bare no effect on any other part of your relationship. For you to set aside your feelings toward the disagreement and be completely loving to your wife in every other interaction. Neither carrying a grudge about the conflict nor constantly bringing it up again. Accepting that the relationship has more value than any individual topic or concept. Knowing that time will reveal the answer if necessary, not on our timetable, but in time none the less.

There is rarely any value greater in being right than there is in just being kind. Being the man she loves and deserves even if you don’t agree on everything. When you come up against an issue that you just can’t seem to settle, take the high road. Tell her that in spite of the conflict, you love her. Be affectionate to her. Show her kindness. Show her that above all else you love her and are committed to her.


8 Responses to Unresolved conflict

  1. Ivy Butler says:

    Hello Ken,
    Over the last week I have learned a very valuable lesson about individuals from one of my mentors. My wife and I want to be happy and have a wonderful marriage, but we don’t always know how to do acheive that result. We have been feeling our way through marriage for 21 years, and never really progressing. We have put issues aside. We have tried to address issues head on, and it has been a struggle.

    My mentor stated that until individuals truly know who they are, what they want out of life, and how they are going to acheive it. There will always be a conflict with self! So the issue is not why We can’t resolve issues in our marriage harmoniously. The issue is why we can’t resolve issues within ourselves.

    Jack Canfield does an absolutely wonderful job of explaining the situation.

    • Ken Kendall says:

      Thank you so much. You are correct. The only reason we fight so hard to be heard, to be right, is because we have an issue within ourselves, and that is pride.

  2. Hey Ken.

    Thanks for creating a blog on what women need in a marraige. It’s a great discussion topic and I am still figuring that one out for myslef.

    Some days, I feel super satisfied and fulfilled in our marriage and other days I feel like throwing it out the window and catching the first train to “who the hell cares”.

    Marriage means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It also means a lot of different things to ONE person in any given moment. Sometimes it represents the idea of having a partner I can live my most adventurous life with. Sometimes it means having someone I can lean on, or share my hopes and dreams with. Sometimes it means access to a body I can have sex with. Sometimes it means the peace of mind that someone will be there to hug me when I walk through the door.

    Sometimes it represents the end of my freedom (although I create that, not my husband). Sometimes it means I have to be accountable to someone else-which when I am feeling ’selfish’ is a problem.

    The fact that all these different feelings show up throughout the course of marriage lets me know that marriage is not the ‘end all and be all’ for a person. It lets me know that it is a life choice, hopefully a conscious one two people make to enter into a loving agreement that supports both of them to live their best lives.

    And in that agreement, they both understand that it will not always be easy or what they will want to choose at a certain moment.

    Women are amazing creatures. We are. We want everything and in the same instance want to give more than we have.

    We need to feel like who we are is valued and respected. We need passion and nourishment. We need complete autonomy and a network of amazing women to bounce ideas off of. We need a man who will take us in his arms and have his way with us. We need a man who will let us do the same to him when we feel like it. We need to know we’re supported and at the same time, we need you to know that we can support ourselves.

    The way our society portrays marriage and more importantly, a ‘good’ marriage isn’t fair to human beings- which we all are. I think we’ve been sold a bill of goods that don’t make sense when you factor in the fact that as human beings, we need variety in our experiences. We are creatures who are always growing and changing, wanting to be our best and needing to explore what it means to be alive.

    So marriage as it has been portrayed is very limiting. I’ve noticed a lot of women feel ‘not at their best’ in their marriages because they are under the misguided belief that they have to get everything they need from that marriage.

    It’s impossible.

    And if people aren’t able to engage in honest loving conversation about what they need and want from their marriage, well then it’s going to be an uncomfortable ride.

    And why should we live in discomfort?


    • Ken Kendall says:

      This is an incredible thought provoking post. There is so much here that is far beyond all the things I have planned to write about so far. Your description of our changing needs is awesome. As well as your insight into our expectations of what a good marriage is, can be so misguided that we can lose hope in our good marriages because they don’t match the expectations.

      I remember when I first was married as a young man, my wife and I had a terrible fight shortly after we were married. I quickly packed up my car with all my clothes, and left, knowing we were going to have to divorce. I had never seen my parents fight in the entire time I was growing up. This gave me the wrong impression. They had fought about many things over the years but had always done it behind closed doors. It gave me the impression that a good marriage was one where you didn’t fight. That is why it is so important that we educate our children on marriage. And on choosing well our spouses.

      Thanks for your insight.

  3. swampyankee007 says:

    You are right in the sense of “agreeing to disagree” however, if the issue is large (like differening views on religion) sometimes you need to work slowly toward compromise. If you don’t, feelings can fester over time and become inflamed. In the end, neither of you wants to hate, nor be appathetic towards the other.

    It takes two working toward something to make a relationship successful. Just for the fact that you are thinking such thoughts at this time in your life makes me think that you are well on your way.

    Best of luck –

    • Ken Kendall says:

      I could not agree more. I hope it didn’t sound like I was advocating ignoring the issues. I really didn’t mean to in any way. I just wanted to convey that when you disagree, while you take the time to work it out, be loving. Be supportive. Be kind. Be patient.

      Thanks for pointing that out.

  4. Crystal says:


    You are so right, and also give me hope for the guys out there 😉

    Letting time take its place and then deciding if the fight is really worth fighting, is so important and relates to my post about giving someone space (which is also giving them time). I think when we have time with our thoughts, we realize that what we were mad about really isn’t that big of a deal, and we move on quickly. But not allowing the time to take place is damaging to the relationship, and to the person.

    Great post, thanks for sharing. I’d love to have you guest blog sometime on http://asinglepointofview.wordpress.com

    To the future,


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