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You don’t want to rock the boat. It’s probably not that big of a deal. Maybe you’re overreacting. You’ll bring it up another time.

It’s easy to come up with lots of reasons to avoid bringing up an issue with your spouse. Most people don’t want to start a fight or cause conflict when things seem to be rolling along smoothly. It’s understandable to want to keep the peace. But here’s the thing: avoiding dealing with issues in your marriage has a way of coming back to bite you later. Most problems don’t just go away on their own. So let’s explore four big reasons to stop avoiding the issue.

1. Avoidance fuels a negative relationship cycle.

When you avoid or minimize problems instead of addressing them, it can start to feel like you’re walking on eggshells – and like you don’t have a lot of control over what’s happening in the relationship. In turn, this can lead to feeling like your partner is calling all the shots, especially if they are more proactive in bringing up issues. This then results in more avoidance, perpetuating the cycle. On the other hand, learning to be assertive and share your feelings and needs in a healthy, respectful way kicks off a positive cycle, building self-confidence and creating a space of mutual acceptance. This helps you feel more comfortable addressing future issues right away instead of letting them fester.

2. Intimacy and connection will improve.

When you’re tiptoeing around an issue or trying to pretend it doesn’t exist, it sort of takes up space between you, creating emotional distance. You might feel like you can’t fully be yourself or try not to bring up certain topics all to avoid “the issue.” You might even try to sidestep spending one-on-one time with your spouse. Needless to say, this is an intimacy killer. It’s hard to feel close and connected when there’s an elephant in the room. Addressing issues eliminates the distance and brings you closer.

3. You’ll minimize resentment.

When you’re upset about something but decide not to bring it up, where do those feelings go? On some rare occasions, you might truly forget about it and move on. But more often, those feelings usually don’t go away. Instead, think of them as weeds in a garden. They take root and spread in the form of resentment, until one day the garden is finally overrun – and you find yourself blowing up over a seemingly tiny infraction. Or perhaps even worse – growing cold and distant from your spouse. Addressing issues right away (or within an appropriate timeframe) is like regularly weeding the garden. No, it’s not a fun job. But it will pay dividends in the end.

4. It makes your relationship stronger.

It’s not easy. It can be uncomfortable, and it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be willing to do the work. That might mean doing some self-reflection to gain a better understanding of your own emotional triggers or working on being more assertive. Or it could mean being patient with each other as you work on an ongoing issue in your relationship, understanding that even if it’s not resolved after one conversation, that’s okay. When you learn to work through issues both big and small instead of avoiding them, your relationship grows. You learn more about each other and yourselves, and you gain confidence to handle anything together.

While it might seem like all is well when things are harmonious, sometimes there is more than meets the eye. Beneath the surface, an unaddressed issue lurks, fostering resentment and creating distance between you. But you can nip the problem in the bud by tackling it in a timely manner, instead of avoiding it. You’ll be glad you did!

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