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Conflict Resolution in Marriage

How to End Wall-to-Wall Hostility in a Hurry

When you’re fighting, bickering and snapping at each other, you just want it to stop.

You want him to understand where you’re coming from and make him realize that it’s ridiculous to keep arguing.

Or else you find yourself imagining how nice it would be to be alone, with no one contradicting or finding fault with everything you say.

You’d also love an apology and some assurance that he’ll stop causing so many conflicts with you, the kids, the neighbors and everyone else who crosses his path.

Most of all, you want a peaceful house. But how?

You can singlehandedly cultivate the calm you crave.

Here are the 3 secrets to conflict resolution in marriage.

1. Let Him Know You’re Listening

Coach Sue recalls desperately wanting to buy a house with her husband shortly after their wedding and having plenty of disagreements about it.

The house she loved was getting away while he was brooding over his concerns.

What she heard him saying was “I don’t want to move forward with this,” which she took to mean “I don’t want to move forward with you.”

Terrified that this conflict represented a huge schism that could break them apart so early in their marriage, she tried to convince him that they should just buy the house. However, things only got more tense and unpleasant between them.

They went on that way for months, until Sue decided to take a different approach.

The next time her husband started enumerating his concerns about them buying a house together, instead of defending, debating or dismissing, Sue just listened to what he was saying.

When he finished explaining, she calmly used this magical phrase: “I hear you.”

And she meant it. She had really listened to his words without racing into the future and worrying or pointing out where his thinking was flawed.

That’s when she saw her husband relax for the first time in months as he sighed with relief and said sincerely, “Thank you!” He looked so grateful to be heard and understood.

She realized that his thinking wasn’t as threatening as she had built it up to be in her head. What he said even made sense now that she was listening without the agenda of making him wrong.

After that, Sue had a different take on the house purchase. As she spent more time considering her husband’s input, the entire process went more effortlessly. Soon enough, they were the proud owners of a wonderful, peaceful new home.

Consider giving your husband airtime by truly listening to him without commenting–no agreement or disagreement. Just honor his words with your listening ear.

Simply letting him know that you hear what he’s saying, that what he says is important to you, will work wonders in restoring the peace.

Even if you’re fighting 23 hours a day, you’ll be amazed how quickly this will relieve tension.


2. Say How You (Really) Feel

When Jessica’s husband woke up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and had only negative, mean-spirited things to say, she felt like she couldn’t win.

Finally, she pointed out that he was grumpy because he’d been drinking the night before.

That did not help matters. At all.

They exchanged hurtful barbs nonstop all morning, and Jessica was furious at him for taking his bad mood out on her.

A student of the 6 Intimacy Skills™, Jessica decided to regroup and ask herself how she felt and what she wanted.

The answer was that she felt mad! Her husband seemed like the biggest jerk on the continent.

She wanted to tell him exactly how she felt: attacked and unsafe. But she knew those weren’t actually feelings–just thinly veiled blame and criticism. So she wisely said nothing for the moment and again asked herself what was true for her.

She realized that under her anger was…hurt. And loneliness, as she longed to feel close to her husband again.

To clean up her part getting in the way of that closeness, first she apologized for being disrespectful when she had criticized him for drinking.

Then, since saying he had hurt her would just be criticizing him again, she simply said, “I’m lonely and I miss you.”

Her husband apologized too, for being a jerk. He hugged her reassuringly, and just like that the connection was back.

3. Let Him Listen to His Own Conscience

Marla had been using the Intimacy Skills for a while and the fighting in her marriage was way down, but sometimes she still saw her husband having heartbreaking conflict with their kids.

The day he yelled obscenities at their teenage son, she was horrified.

Drawing on her faith that her husband was a good man, she chose to see him for the mere mortal parent that he is.

She wanted to support her husband in what appeared to be a very low moment for him, even as she was feeling heartbroken for their son.

She knew that this swearing tyrant was not the man her husband aspired to be, so she did something that surprised even her: She gave him a hug.

Then she went off in search of self-care to distract her from the conflict between her man and her man-child.

No one was more surprised than Marla when, just a few minutes later, the conflict was over. Her husband was sitting on the bed with their son, speaking quietly, and they were both crying!

By showing support for her husband and then stepping aside instead of trying to mend this conflict, Marla left room for him to hear his own conscience.

Apparently, it had spoken very loudly that he owed their teenager an apology because that’s what he did. Then the teenager apologized too!

Marla was filled with admiration for her husband having the humility and strength to admit his failings and ask forgiveness, and her mama heart swelled that he treated their son with such gentleness afterward.

Which of these secrets will you experiment with next time there’s a conflict at your house? I’d love to hear in the comments section below.


By Laura Doyle

Hi! I'm Laura.

New York Times Bestselling Author

I was the perfect wife--until I actually got married. When I tried to tell my husband how to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier, he avoided me. I dragged him to marriage counseling and nearly divorced him. I then started talking to women who had what I wanted in their marriages and that’s when I got my miracle. The man who wooed me returned.

I wrote a few books about what I learned and accidentally started a worldwide movement of women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills™ that lead to having amazing, vibrant relationships. The thing I’m most proud of is my playful, passionate relationship with my hilarious husband John–who has been dressing himself since before I was born.

37 replies on “Conflict Resolution in Marriage”

I use “I hear you” all the time, and it’s great. My husband really feels heard and shares more and more of his thoughts and feelings. My question is, when is it my turn? How can I get him to listen to me too? What’s been happening is that I shut down when he doesn’t listen, and I give up on being heard. Not in a silent treatment way; I just get quiet and share less and less. Eventually he notices, and has been listening a little more. But it seems like there’s got to be a more positive and efficient way to get there. I do thank him when he listens. But how do I bring up what’s on my mind and get him to listen with interest and care in the first place?

Ilana, I get how painful and lonely it is not to feel heard. I love your commitment and that this phrase is turning things around in your marriage!

I used to feel that my husband didn’t really care. With all 6 Intimacy Skills, I learned to express myself in a way that he could hear me. Now I feel desired, cherished and adored.

To talk more about how to get your husband to listen and show he cares, I invite you to apply for a complimentary discovery call to see how working with a coach would fit for you. The call alone will bring you clarity. You can apply here:

Laura, your skills are brilliant! Simple (not easy!) and effective! You are a genius for the way you describe them and broadcast them.

Thank you for sharing these relatable scenarios, which help me to focus on how I can keep my side of the street clean. I am an avid reader of your books!

Hi , im Robyn. now seperated for 6months to a husband i deep down love,of 32 years. i have practiced using’ i hear you’. phrase, yes it helps. but there is so much pain and unresolved conflict, from way back. One major conflict being, love never coming first, he is a passionate car enthusiast and builder of hotrods, of which i have supported, praised, encouraged and gone to rod shows etc, but, my interests very rarely get any notice or time. Id love it to be about we, not he. all the time. Lot more to our story, feel we will never get our marriage back, would love to talk in private.

Robyn, I’m sorry to hear about your separation and the unresolved conflict, especially with HIS interests stealing the spotlight. That is painful. I love your vulnerability and your openness to trying something new.

I felt resentful and lonely when I wasn’t getting the attention I needed and my marriage seemed all about him. With the 6 Intimacy Skills, he started treating me like a queen, and now I get to feel desired, cherished and adored.

There is hope for saving your marriage. I would love to give you a private call and first want to invite you to my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at

I think its amazing advice to encourage self care when there is a fight, giving our husbands the space to hear their own conscience. We so often try and get them to hear what we are telling them but often if we walk away and take care of ourselves, they realize the same thing anyway..and even if they don’t often we get a different perspective and can moreso appreciate and understand their point of view or maybe even change our own!

I am grateful for your books and program (I am a SWEWer!). I am still learning to apply the skills regularly, and a lot of times since it is not ‘natural’ to me, I forget to use them. My husband of 30 years has told me that he does not want to talk/see our son anymore (our son is 26 years old), because our son has shown disrespect (not responding to texts/calls a lot of times, not inviting us up to his apartment when we dropped him off, giving him snippy remarks about how we raised him, etc; subtly so, not in-your-face kind of a thing). It breaks my heart. My husband blames me for his failed relationship with our son, and he expects and pressures me to “fix” it. I have talked to our son many times, saying that his dad is a great dad, but do uses harsh hurtful words. I was told by many to not be in the middle of this. So now I have stopped telling my son, and I told my husband that I have done and talked to son all I can, and all I can do now is to show our son that I respect you, instead of telling our son. My husband is super angry at me, withholding intimacy, and accused me of not caring, and to not wanting to help, and a bad mom. What might be the best thing for me to do?

Lisa, that is heartbreaking! I admire you for choosing respect and for your commitment to intimacy with both your husband and your son.

I remember the blame game and how hurtful and futile it was. As hard as it was, the 6 Intimacy Skills empowered me to stop trying to control others and to find other tools to connect with them and inspire them to be their best selves. Now I get to feel desired, cherished and adored.

I am grateful to have you in the Surrendered Wife Empowered Woman community. For further support on this issue, I invite you to apply for a complimentary discovery call to see how working with a coach would fit for you. The call alone will bring you clarity. You can apply here:

Hi Laura!! First of all – thank you very much !! I have been reading your book and your blogs for few weeks now and for real, these principles WORK!! Im at aw myself, its been only 2 weeks or so, but everything is so much better!! Just WOW… simply WOW…
Just yesterday he was complaining about smthg… And instead of ignoring the texts/phone calls or trying to proof or different, I simply msg “I hear you”… Next thing – he apologized for acting like a jerk..
A question, maybe you can write a blog about it, how to encourage your husband to be more healthy /fit? My guy is extremely insecure about his looks, he is complaining all day long that he is fat and overweight, doesn’t even like to take pictures bc he is unhappy how he looks. I love him. Even though he could get rid of 20lb or so.. But those pounds seem to bother HIM so much that they started affecting OUR happiness.
Soooo….how to inspire him to eat better, work out more?
Giving him advises and suggestions – clearly do not work :((

Roberta, I’m thrilled to hear how your marriage is already transforming after only two weeks of practicing the Intimacy Skills! It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job!

I hear that your husband’s weight is affecting your happiness, which is painful. I love your awareness that giving him advice doesn’t work. Here’s my approach to inspiring him to be healthier:

Thank you Laura!! Somehow I missed this article “How to get my husband to be healthier”. It is exactly what I needed.
Thank you. I will try to follow advice and hope for best outcome!
Your blogs / tv shows / books – I love them! So much information, and sooo useful!

Any advice on how to handle arguments over him looking at porn, and going to date sites, and says:I was just curious about dating sites. But he does it often. Also the girly photos. You don’t won’t to leave him but don’t want this going. What’d your advice. I’m reading surrendered wife,, while he’s looking at junk.

Vickie, I hear how painful it is for him to look at these sites and photos. I admire your commitment to transforming your relationship, regardless of what he’s looking at.

I did not approve of my husband’s extracurricular activities either. I was resentful and lonely. With the 6 Intimacy Skills, I learned how to attract him back to me, and now he makes me feel desired, cherished and adored.

If I can do it, you can too! I’ll show you how in my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at

I like your message today, but I don’t see that helping my marriage it is to far gone. We are at the end right now and all I see is separation or divorce and I don’t want either one, but I’m tired of trying anymore.

Sonja, I hear that your marriage seems too far gone. It sounds like you have been through a lot, and I would be feeling tired and hopeless too. I admire you for having the vulnerability and the commitment to come here anyway.

I once thought that divorce was my only option, but I didn’t want that either. I had tried everything else, so I gave the 6 Intimacy Skills a go. Finally, I got the tools to have the playful, passionate marriage I had always wanted. I see the same transformation with couples who are already separated and even divorced.

You too can save your marriage. If you’ve already tried everything else, are you willing to try one last thing? I invite you to my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at

Hello how do I win my fiance back after he practically moved out because we continue to argue and fight?

Capricia, I’m sorry to hear about all the fighting and that your fiance practically moved out. I admire your vulnerability and commitment to your relationship.

I remember the fighting. I just didn’t know how to stop it. With the 6 Intimacy Skills, I finally learned how to communicate in a way he could hear, so we now have the peaceful and passionate marriage I’d always wanted.

I know you can have that too. I’ll show you how in my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at

hi Laura
I have been with a man named shalom for over 9 years but to us both we had been so close in a good way it seemed like a lifetime of 30 years of closeness and fun. he was very attracted to meet someone like me and ran to live near me on the east coast in N.Y. and wanted to marry me. we traversed the world and our Jewish orthodox communities together where he was a pulpit rabbi for 50 years. he is a rollercoaster ride in relationship, goes.from loving to sudden volatility and abandonment. even when it was a perfectly happy day with no triggers. other times he didn’t know how to negotiate communication matters. I was good at those things so I helped us get thru what many times was abuse and abandonment by him. I naturally became critical and also did some of the 6 steps before knowing them thru your program
. he never had any commitment to working on himself [ i think he would in marriage.] he said he loved me so much but had many excuses for wanting to get settled and he wasnt in a good place with work till now and was just finishing a long 37 years marriage when i met.him . we went thru enormous amounts of positive things together. we kept having the attraction, but he stopped being committed to me.and while he continued being together I was doing the work to get us together as he moved a couple.hoirs away. whenever we are together or living together we.are.great.together. he would tell people our relationship is 98 percent good. but the 2 percent he couldn’t handle I joined your program and it’s been great. I would like to have a private call.with you asap. when I started doing the 6 steps he immediately noticed the difference. yet since we are not married and I wasn’t with him this summer as it got complicated with his needing to present himself a certain way as.a rabbi, another woman contacted him and he was open since I wasn’t nearby. and now without having met her he says plans to marry her. saying she soothes him.

he’s been tough but I don’t want to lose him. I came to a point where I decided it was better to be with.him despite the great difficulties involved. can ?

My husband and I were best friends. People used to get jealous of the connection we had and how we understood each other. He has supported me in everything but he was and is very possesive. He does not trust me. After the birth of our fifth kid, he does not even want to talk to me or see me. He works night shifts and we are unable to make ends meet. SO i work as a freelancer at night from home. DUring the day I am busy in house hold chores and kids. I had 6000$ which I got from my parents and he invested it somewhere promising me to bring them back with the profits. Those money are not coming back and he says that everything is in a loss now. I checked with the person he invested and that person told me that my husband has been taking the profits and money from the capital amount off and on. My mother in law blames me for everything. I have tried my best to help him by every means but he does not care at all. He had taken money from his mom now and now his mom is after me every now and then asking for money. Those are about 1200$. We live on rent and are barely able to make ends meet. I am tired and exhausted of my routine and I just not know what to do. SOmetimes I think to just end it up and take the kids with me for the peace of mind. I am a good cook, a good mother and a good wife too. In our culture women don’t earn and it is the man’s responsibility to make ends meet. But my husband has failed to provide for me and my children too. He is now again asking me for money as I have hired a lawyer to take the money out which are stuck by him. He wants to give them to his mother which I dont think is my responsibility. WHat do u suggest?

Maria, that does sound exhausting. I’m sorry to hear your husband doesn’t trust you and has not been providing for your family. I admire you for all you do and for your commitment to your marriage.

I did not think my husband was capable of being a good provider. My practicing the 6 Intimacy Skills has completely changed that, to the point that he became more successful than ever and his new nickname became “Mr. Moneybags”!

You too can receive the trust and support you deserve. I’ll show you how in my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at

Im sorry , but im feeling extremely angry and very very frustrated at the moment, and frankly, yes feeling sorry for myself, i just cant move forward to matter what i do, i cant communicate with my husband at all no matter how gentle and composed i am. sick of the blame game, sick of NOT being heard, do i literally have to sit back and take all the flack , appologise for me being the only one at fault, the only one that is willing to take ownership for any wrong doing, the only one that has been doing the hurting, the only one humble enough to try and get help programmes and try to apply them. I thought there was two in a marriage. 32 years. I just want it to be about we not He.

Robyn, I hear how angry and frustrated you are at being blamed and not being heard. It’s heartbreaking to feel like you’re the only one taking initiative to heal your marriage.

You are not alone. I totally relate. Unfortunately, I could not make my husband do his part. Believe me, I tried. I dragged him to counseling, but that only made things worse. Then I learned that I had the power to change the culture of our marriage. Finally, he did his part and became his best self too.

I would love to give you the tools to inspire your husband to do his part too. I invite you to apply for a complimentary discovery call to see how working with a coach would fit for you. The call alone will bring you clarity. You can apply here:

I love your blog Laura but I do find it hard to keep on track and not go back to my old ways. I have a very stressful job that is particularly bad at the moment. My husband bought a dog 6 months ago which I did not want but trusted him when he said it would be good for our family. I told him at the time that I didn’t have time for a dog but he reassured me that he would do everything. Six months later and we row because he says I’m not doing enough to help him with the dog. I’m feeling very resentful. How do I resolve this?

Liz, that’s tough when your husband doesn’t follow through on his promises. I admire your commitment to respecting his thinking and restoring the peace.

I used to be stressed out and resentful toward my husband a lot. Furious was more like it. The 6 Intimacy Skills gave me the tools to relax and to inspire him to support me and make me happy.

You too can make your marriage peaceful and passionate. I’ll show you how in my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at

Hi Laura
What if your husband is a negative whiner who always has an excuse for why nothing is his fault or responsibility and who reacts with yet more sulking and perceives everything as an attack on his pride even if what you are confronting is the truth. Like for instance, most women do not find ten years of verbal and emotional bullying and blame shifting sexually exciting and that is why I do not any longer want to be physical with you. I have told him this but he reacts with even more resentment because no matter what I should not say anything that affronts his image of himself. What if what you are dealing with is a guy who is a case of arrested development with no interest in growing and who has even admitted to transferring his issues onto you – namely that the real reason he isn`t the big successful man he should be is because of his mother, his first wife, his second wife ( me ) etc? I am not at this point even sure I want to save this marriage. He thinks I should ignore issues of serious dysfunction and irresponsibility endlessly because if I say something it harms his pride. How many years of my life do I lose to this? Nothing is EVER his fault. When I met him he was living with his parents and sulking because of his first marriage . Despite this I thought I saw something in him worthwhile and like many a woman thought my love and respect would make a huge difference in his life. It did but the trouble was I found myself slowly in the role of his mother somehow . He once launched a verbal attack on me where he went right off his nut and just lambasted me with all manner of nasty accusations, though he hardly knew me at that point.
It took me a few minutes to get him calmed down and he apologized and admitted he had transferred his issues with his ex onto me and it would never happen again. WELL. Suffice to say it has happened over and over. Clearly my own emotional health was not great or I would not have stuck around. But regardless of spilt milk, I am in fact married to this man. What I have found is that if I say nothing and leave it up to him to make up his mind he does…….nothing. But seemingly sigh a big `Whew, o good I Don`t have to deal with that and can go on doing what is important to me“. Do you address situations like this with second marriages, verbal and emotional abuse from husbands taking family of origin issues out on you, etc and will these tools work or is this a different situation? Have they worked in marriages that might be classified as borderline abusive?
Thanks for considering my question.

CinderYella, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been enduring a borderline abusive marriage with a developmentally arrested man. That is so hard. I really appreciate your authenticity and admire your commitment to your marriage.

I have seen the 6 Intimacy Skills work miracles even in abusive relationships, as I share in the blog “How to Know when to Divorce.” You are not alone in dealing with such family-of-origin issues or in being in a second marriage, which have not stopped my clients from becoming desired, cherished and adored.

I want that for you too! I’m eager to see what opens up as the Intimacy Skills inspire your husband to become his best self too. To learn more, I invite you to my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at

This is very helpful. I’ve been a control freak, “think I know better” wife for 13 years. I’m eager to try “I hear you,” but fear retaliation that my husband will say, I’ve been telling you this for years! He blames me for our life situation. We both work part time and stay home with our children. He wants to change careers to make a difference in the world, but is scared of the changes, but also blames me that he hasn’t done this sooner and now thinks it is too late. Every day he goes to work, I get a text that he hates his job and that he wishes he could change the way he sees it and wishes he could be content. I’m not sure what to even say to him anymore. I’ve been working on the 6 intimacy skills since I found your website two weeks ago, it is amazing, but today then I get these texts from work, I want to ignore it, but I think that is disrespectful to him, but I also don’t want to condone it by responding and him thinking these text are normal/okay. I’m grateful for your work. I think many men are down and out and feel disrespected. I’m not sure how to heal the past.

My question is what happens when I say “I hear you” and truly try to understand his position but he responds by not respecting my position at all. Or even worse, uses the fact that I admitted to hearing him fully as ammo to fire back “then why do you still not totally agree with me?” How do I feel better when I tell him how I really feel, with no criticism or blame in my words, and he suggests I “toughen up” or “get over it”? My husband’s conscience does not win out often regardless of what I do. He has told me that apologies are just an admission of weakness and will never make anything better, only worse. I love him and he has a lot of good character attributes, but emotional intimacy is not in his vocabulary. Is there hope? I try really hard to only focus on my own actions but I constantly feel defeated when it doesn’t help the situation.

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