International relationship advice: How to handle disagreements in a marriage

international relationship

No matter who you are married to, you will definitely have disagreements, challenges, complaints and differences in your marriage. Also, there will be things that you dislike about your spouse, even in a happy marriage. Therefore, difficult conversations are inevitable. How can people have difficult but important conversations in an international relationship?

  • A key skill in having a great marriage is being able to effectively communicate complaints.

Usually, those with insufficient communication skills approach complaints in these ways: 1) They generally pretend that the issue does not even exist and hide it in the background where the problem will eventually fester unresolved till it reappears later in a significantly worse manner. 2) They directly go into confrontation mode which leads to loud accusations – this oftentimes results in no solution anyway and only makes the relationship less enjoyable.

Obviously, neither of the above-mentioned methods are right. Now I’d like to show you how to approach complaints effectively:

If you would like to complain about your spouse, please remember to be kind and gentle so that your spouse can remain in a receptive mode calmly. Always communicate your complaints when your spouse is not busy or distracted, so you’d better ask her, “Is this a good time to have a chat?” (If it’s not a good time, ask her when is a good time to talk.)

Always begin the difficult conversation with a positive statement, e.g., “I really appreciate your understanding” and “I know you are a classy woman”. You can also use “we” and “us” at the beginning of the conversation, e.g., “We are a team” and “I understand that you have done so much for us”. Then you can share what bothers you as well as why it’s an issue in your opinion. Usually, the problem is not even the behavior; it’s simply why it’s a problem from your point of view. Therefore, you don’t need to tell your spouse what she is doing wrong (no accusation at all). Just tell her how you feel about what happened. Towards the end of the conversation, you have to give her some time and space to explain what she has heard because you must find out whether she has fully understood you. 😊

international relationship
  • What if your spouse complains about you in an international relationship?

I know this isn’t easy because nobody enjoys listening to their spouse saying they are unhappy. However, it’s totally necessary; hence, please take a deep breath and be open-minded. Note that there are several possible responses that you are going to feel when your spouse complains about you: 1) Attacking her, e.g., “You know what, you are even worse in this regard.” 2) Becoming defensive, e.g., “I’m just too exhausted and too busy. Don’t you understand?” 3) Ignoring her concern, e.g., “That shouldn’t even matter. It’s not a big deal. Don’t focus on the small details that only stress you out; be a big-picture person!” 4) Trying to fix the issue immediately, e.g., “OK. What you should do is to call me first.” 5) Saying sorry in order to pacify your spouse, e.g., “I’m so sorry. I must be a bad person. You are absolutely right.” Of course, there is a time and a place for apologizing to your spouse / fixing the problem / explaining yourself / letting her know that she does the same thing as well. Nevertheless, please do not do any of these too quickly. You have to figure out what the issue is in the first place. Identify the reasons why it is an issue instead of focusing on the behavior. After finding out the key information, you will be able to effectively apologize, fix the problem, explain yourself or let her know that she does it as well, thereby addressing this side of things accordingly.

Remember: the worst thing that you can do in a relationship is to ignore problems. You can raincheck the difficult conversation when you aren’t in the right headspace to have this conversation, but you must set a time to have this discussion. As long as you are able to manage those reactions and remain curious by seeking to really understand your spouse’s experience of what bothers her, you will fully understand and resolve challenges in an international relationship.

“The skill in having a high-quality marriage is exactly what makes a good relationship.”

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