I have received a lot of advice in my short 23 years here on earth...some good, some bad, and some REALLY bad.
I can honestly say though, that the best piece of advice (and most frequently used piece of advice) that I have gotten, came from my pastor. Regarding marriage.
Before my husband and I got married, we did some premarital counseling with our pastor, and at one point he told us, "Never go to bed angry" and later to restate the same concept, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger". Now, at the time, I kind of just shrugged it off, half ignoring what he said, but I think that is the single most important thing that he taught us (or that anyone taught us) about marriage.
Like all couples, my husband and I have heated discussions, arguments, and sometimes even yelling fights. I can tend to get really worked up, especially when things around me are changing rapidly, or when I am feeling unsure and insecure...which basically describes much of my year these past twelve months. I am also the type of person who would rather just leave the situation temporarily instead of talking it out immediately. I also happen to be the type of person who holds grudges. (I know, I'm not painting a very pretty picture of myself, am I?) I do believe that if we hadn't gotten the advice to not go to bed angry, that my marriage would be a lot worse off.
This is because, no matter how angry or how upset I get, no matter how much I just want to avoid the situation and not deal with the issue that is at the root of the problem, by agreeing beforehand not to go to bed while still angry, I/we are putting a limit on how long we will let the problem go on. Eventually, sometime before bedtime, we will have to talk about it, and we will have to resolve it. Now, does that always mean that the root problem is immediately fixed, the stressor gone, and we go about our lives merrily? No, not necessarily.
What is does mean though, is that we both take the time to talk about what is bothering us, and how we feel. It means that we take a moment to apologize and most importantly, to ask forgiveness from each other. From there we are then able to take a better look at the root problem, and calmly figure out what our next steps are in handling the situation.
It may sound cheesy, it may not be perfect, but it is what works for us.
What about you? What works for you in terms of conflict resolution with your spouse or significant other? I'd love to hear your thoughts.