Increasing trust in times of conflict

A reader writes in:

Whenever my fiancé and I get in a conflict she always wonders if I love her. I believe I express my love enough with words and I whatnot and she needs to trust me more. Conflicts and stressful situations happen. Part of life. She’s one of the most respectful woman I have ever met. Very submissive. Never really talks back. How do I respond to this? She gets scared so easily. It’s almost comical at times.

Women tend to shy away from or be scared of conflict situations, so this is normal behavior. How you respond to it can give you a leg up in developing more trust.

There’s several ways to approach this in a godly masculine manner that can increase trust and intimacy:

  • Physical — pull her into a big hug. Nothing shows that you love her like pulling her into your arms until she feels comforted and melts. Bonus points for saying something along the lines of “aww, get over here” while you pull her into a big hug. Additionally, hold her hand while you are talking with her if the conflict has not ended yet.
  • Surrounding circumstances — you don’t want to be in any type of conflict in a high pressure atmosphere like in public or with loud noises around. A quiet, calm place is the best.
  • Connect emotionally — and no, this is not splay out your feelings to her. It’s normal to feel scared when emotions and tensions are high, and it’s a good idea to let her know that it is OK to feel the way she is feeling. However, the way each of you respond to it makes a difference: conflict means you should run toward each other rather than pull away from each other.
  • Be thankful for the opportunity to resolve it — when my wife was just my girlfriend and fiancee, one of the hardest things for her was that when there was conflict, she constantly pulled away, pouted, and otherwise shut down from conversation. One of the ways to get around this is to be thankful not angry, even if a situation was a cause to get angry. What I mean by this is that when she brings up a conflict situation, you need to thank her for bringing it up. Be patient, slow to anger, and abounding in love in such situations makes it much easier for her to not only know that you have her back but you can figure things out with her or with the situation without blowing up in anger like other men.
  • Acknowledge that men and women are different — this is sort of obvious to us around these parts, but men and women respond to things differently. Not saying that it being “comical” is like patronizing her, but it helps to looking at the situation from an understanding point of view. She is the weaker vessel, and she needs more delicate intervention than a male friend would.
  • Include flavor with the food — Remember, women need flavor with food. While you can directly criticize a man, women tend to take direct criticism as “not loving.” The technique of the “compliment sandwich” is a good example of how to make criticism more palatable. Praise her, “sometimes I notice that [insert criticism here]”, praise her.
  • Trivial and fleeting — if it’s something very trivial and fleeting and doesn’t make any long term impact, you can simply just ‘reframe’ or change the subject. Getting her mind off of it basically solves the issue for these smaller ones.

These are the main ones that I can think of at the moment that I personally do, but I’m sure there’s more.

If any readers have good ways that they resolve potential conflict in their relationships, feel free to chime in.

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7 Responses to Increasing trust in times of conflict

  1. Ame says:

    this is really good. idk why we women get so insecure sometimes, esp in times of conflict, but we do. my husband has been really great about working hard to build my self-confidence in his love and commitment to me, esp in areas of conflict. even after many years, the assurances that he still loves me, that i’m still on his team in this life, are powerful and very much appreciated.

  2. I think the reader is still running into a bit of the Men & Women are different problem. Around these parts, we’ve gotten quite technical, but Women simply aren’t like that. The Solipsism is a feature, not a bug, but adjusting to that reality is hard for most Men. And for fairly logical reasons. Survival, as a male, is utterly different than for a female.

    This case sounds more like a light Fitness Test. The normal response to the statement brings you into her Frame, which leads you to attempting to disprove a negative. When you’re saying, “of course I love you”, the reality is you’ve actually answered the “question” incorrectly. That isn’t what she was asking. Her instincts have taken over and she’s testing if you can stand up to her emotions.

    With all this implies, Women are looking for the strongest rod they can tether themselves to. They always need an external tether, as they’ll eventually start spinning into insanity without it. It’s normally a long process, but the “crazy cat lady” happens for a reason. This also tends to be the comparative issue that causes keep envy in most Women: what effects & bothers most Women simply doesn’t bother most Men.

    We also live in a strange time where we have an Apex Alpha as President. Ignore the politics for a moment, but actually watch Trump interact with groups of people. He uses many words. Many words. Big words. Sometimes, huge words! Yet it’s highly effective speech approach because it gets to the heart of the matter of human communication: humans interact in the subtexts. Words matter, but the subtext matters first.

    In the case of the reader that wrote in, how about, “I have many thoughts, but I want ice cream”. Or whatever else it is you want to do, then do that. She wants your Frame to trump hers, so understand the subtext and move on.

    @Ame:

    It really is the hormones. The cyclical nature puts huge stresses on the nervous system for a Woman, and it crops up in a lot of weird ways within the mind. Add in various life stresses or other outside factors, you can expect anyone to have doubts about critical aspects to their survival. This is why, as you mention, part of the process of marriage is being able to trust a husband when the winds of emotion to start raging. It takes effort.

  3. This case sounds more like a light Fitness Test. The normal response to the statement brings you into her Frame, which leads you to attempting to disprove a negative. When you’re saying, “of course I love you”, the reality is you’ve actually answered the “question” incorrectly. That isn’t what she was asking. Her instincts have taken over and she’s testing if you can stand up to her emotions.

    With all this implies, Women are looking for the strongest rod they can tether themselves to. They always need an external tether, as they’ll eventually start spinning into insanity without it.

    Yep.

  4. Ame says:

    @Looking Glass,

    yes. hormones are HUGE!

    for me, personally, there’s also a lot of fear due to my dad and my ex. my Husband wants me to know that it’s okay for me to be angry and not fear that he will hurt me like i have been in the past.

  5. @Ame:

    One of the interesting results from this part of the Internet is the realization that a lot of the old statements about Men & Women were true in the general sense, but they gaslit them so hard they lost all of their context and subtlety.

    The cyclical nature of the hormone control within Women is intense by any biochemical analysis. I believe one study had up to a 10 IQ point delta for some Women, which is “massive concussion” levels of effect. Thus it should be expected that Women will be hit by the winds of emotion in weird ways. The logical consequence of that is there are certain roles Women cannot hold/perform, while the one key thing to teach girls is properly apologizing.

    It isn’t that a Woman goes wonky that’s the biggest problem (unless she’s holding a gun to you), it is the lack of realization that they just insulted your mother & your dead dog without ever acknowledging the actions. You are always responsible for your Actions. Always. The lack of resolution to interpersonal conflict, caused by the previous interpersonal conflict, builds up over time.

    From the masculine point of view, a Woman that can’t take responsibility for her actions, after the fact, simply can’t be trusted. That’s a very serious problem within a marriage, but it’s also not something a Husband can actually solve.

  6. Ame says:

    Looking Glass – you are so right!

    since I grew up with lies upon lies, and I learned late in my first marriage that he had been layer ing lies upon lies, when he left us I told my girls that there would be no more lies. only truth. and we’ve stuck to that.

    also … I learned early in my adult life that every parent would and does need their child’s forgiveness, and it’s best to teach forgiveness from the womb by modeling it. my mother always flippantly justified her actions (I beat you black and blue all up and down your backside, but I didn’t know any better – kind of bs). I did not want to be that way. so I chose to acknowledge my bad and ask forgiveness right away. I try to practice this in every area of my life, including my marriage. since it was modeled and expected, my girls also acknowledge their bad and ask forgiveness.

    teaching repentance is a whole different thing, and I truly hope I’ve done that with my girls, too.

    sadly, when I took responsibility for my own stuff in my first marriage, he dumped me with all his bad, too, and continuously til he died blamed me for every bad thing in his life. interesting, as young adults our girls can now easily articulate all that and often remind me I am not responsible for what he did.

    so, since neither of my parents have ever taken responsibility for their actions, unless they were good, and neither did my ex, it’s a huge thing for me.

  7. Wayne says:

    I will add another one: Smiling and laughing with delighted amusement.
    The reader cited in the post has a very unique relationship, in which his woman is submissive and respectful. So reading this is a breath of fresh air these days.
    The larger culture likes to paint all men as being too violent or heavy handed, and when we subscribe to this stereotype of men, it tends to support the Feminist ‘Intersectional Oppression’ narrative. But Christian men, for the most part, do not have a problem with being too overbearing. Instead, their weakness is in being unable to maintain frame and ‘make demands’, which are very powerful tools in establishing structure, trust, and confidence in the relationship.
    Resolving conflict (and potential conflict) in a relationship is an extensive and complex subject, but it is also a very important one that deserves our attention. I have made a point of covering conflict, ethical systems, and power structures in great detail in my blog, because I know this is an area that needs reinforcement among Christian men.

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