Emil Harker: How to Shortcut Marriage Conflict

Emil Harker

(KUTV) Salt Lake City - Emil Harker, Author, Life Coach, Presenter, Sex Therapist and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, dropped by Fresh Living to share his one simple strategy to shortcut marriage conflict.

See if this sounds familiar:

  • Your spouse does something that hurts, offends, disappoints you.
  • You bring this fault to your spouses attention.
  • Instead of appreciation, you get defensiveness.
  • Feeling wronged and invalidated you emotionally withdraw, and so does your spouse for feeling wrongly accused.
  • A few days go by with emotional distance and coldness.
  • Then life happens and you forget the wrongs and start talking and being nice and the reset button is pushed.
  • Nothing is resolved but you are back to normal again.
  • How many times have you had an argument only to find out it was all just a misunderstanding?
  • When I [Emil] ask this question to couples and they really think about it, in almost every case they realized that there was just a misunderstanding.


Next time you are hurt frustrated or disappointed, instead of "helpfully" bringing the error to your spouses attention with an accusation, assume you don't understand something or aren't supporting them. Supporting them refers to times when your spouse makes a run of the mill mistake. Let's face it, we all forget things, or say something wrong, or get distracted or selfish at times. It's part of normal life. We don't usually go out of our way to hurt the other persons feelings so why assume our spouse does. So, if in your efforts to understand, you find out that it was just a human error on your spouses part, you can support them by explaining how you can relate to being human and making a mistake. If there is an explanation, and there usually is, you are now able to put the perceived error into perspective and not only avoid getting offended, you just saved a few days from being in the emotional freezer.


"You haven't said two words to me since I got home from work. Normally you are talkative and engaged with me. Would it be safe to assume I've missed something? What am I not understanding?"

Warning! In cases where the error repeats itself or causes serious damage to the relationship, you will need someone to guide you through these situations safely. Otherwise you could end up worse than when you started.

For more relationship help or to contact Emil, go to EmilHarker.com.