Conflict is good for relationships provided the couple can come to a solution so that both of them feel heard and understood. In a relationship there are two unique individuals with different life experiences. It is only natural that they will run into situations where they view things differently.

One couple ran into the following situation. Sara did not like how Glenn held his soup spoon. Although he was in his mid twenties he still held his spoon with a fist as he had done since he was a little boy. She felt she did not have a right to bring it up with him. She thought that she would be disrespectful of him if she brought up the spoon issue since he was an adult. Yet it kept bothering her because after all he was not a child anymore and in her eyes it was a question of having manners that were appropriate for adults.

Sara had grown up in a home where her father did not allow anyone to disagree with him. One day calmly, but with inner trepidation, Sara decided to bring up this issue. Much to her surprise Glenn’s initial response was that he had no idea what she was talking about. He simply was not aware that the way he held his spoon was inappropriate as an adult. And when she explained it to him he took her seriously. He did not mind her bringing it up and it did not take him long to change this habit. No one had ever corrected him and he appreciated it from Sara.

Sara was delighted that she had the courage to bring this issue up with Glenn instead of letting it smolder. She also saw that her husband was open to looking at his behavior and when it made sense to him was willing to make changes. What pleased her was that Glenn reacted so differently than her father would have. It didn’t matter who in the family would have raised a concern her father’s response would have been anger and fury at the person who brought up the issue followed by refusal to look at his own behavior.

Sara and Glenn were able to work out “her concern” because they understood that when one of them experienced conflict it was important to find a solution so that both would be OK. Surprisingly for couples it often is the small habits and disagreements, if they are not resolved, that end up festering and becoming big.