Conflict: Good For Your Marriage?

strengths conflict complementary couples

“I’m a movement by myself, but I’m a force when we’re together. Mami, I’m good all by myself, but baby you, you make me better.”

It’s not often we get relationship inspiration from pop culture, but I think this lyric is gold. It summarizes the secret of successful couples. Good alone, but better together. Like Coca-Cola and Jollof. Akara and Bread. *insert your own power couple here*

Seriously, though. One of the best reasons to get married is that you join resources with someone whose strengths match up exactly with your own weaknesses. The interesting thing is that this may not be immediately evident. You might be thinking: Nah, his strengths don’t complement my weaknesses. This sounds like wishy-washy philosophy. What are his strengths sef? What are my own strengths, for that matter?

If you don’t know your strengths, you could start by asking people who know you well and interact with you often. Family. Friends. Colleagues. Church co-workers. Ask them to name specific situations where you’ve been at your best. If you want to go all tech with it, try Reflected Best Self Exercise™.

You might have a fair idea of his strengths. But you’re not sure if you’re complementing each other or not. You could start by asking yourself: what are our points of conflict? There are certain issues or traits that come up often as arguments between you two. The theory here is that those conflicts are actually your strengths clashing. Complementing each other would mean applying those strengths at different times, in different situations.

For instance, consider Francis and Folake. Francis likes to attend every party he’s invited to. His nickname is “Social Prefect”. Folake, on the other hand, would like to stay indoors and watch a movie on cable TV. He’s an extrovert, she’s an introvert.

Francis has great networking skills and is a good risk-taker. Her friends say she’s a good listener, and great at planning. Folake is trying to switch jobs, and build an online business. Francis has been told at work that he doesn’t know how to take feedback and he is struggling with balancing home expenses and their income.

Can you see how they could help each other? Their first step would be to recognize each other’s strengths and agree to use them. He’s not going to be interested in learning to take feedback after they just argued about his full social calendar. You can bet she won’t listen to his ideas on taking the risk and moving to another  industry. But that’s the secret of successful couples. They know their “differences” could be strengths and agree to build each other up, leveraging on each other’s skills.

It takes practice and time, so don’t despair if it seems hopeless today. Marriage is a lifetime commitment, right? You can take the first step today and think of all the things you argue about. Then switch it up and look at it from a position of These could be strengths. You’ll be on your way to “being a force when you’re together”. 🙂