“All couples fight.” “Learn to fight fair.” “Manage your conflict.” In a world where violent words and actions are common, we can automatically assume that various levels of conflict are normal and expected in relationships and marriages. A low-conflict marriage may seem unreachable.

But what if it’s not true? What if it’s possible for couples to learn knowledge and skills that make conflict very rare? And include the children and other family members in the process?

A key operating principle for a peaceful marriage is “The unity of our marriage comes first.” That includes making decisions as partners. Consultative or partnership decision-making, sometimes referred to simply as “consultation”, includes:

1. Fact-finding discussion between two (or more) people, usually aimed at arriving at a decision

2. Identifying any spiritual principles that apply to the situation

3. Focusing on a common goal—what is best to do or not do

4. Exploring thoughts, feelings, and goals, as well as sharing of new information; searching for the truth together

5. Sharing equal voices for all involved, with all contributions worthy of respectful listening

6. Detaching from owning contributions so that each person can be flexible in adjusting perspectives through the process

7. Clarifying situations, resolving disagreements, and finding solutions that work, without blaming,arguing, or issuing orders

8. Supporting the decision wholeheartedly and working unitedly for its success; evaluating its effectiveness together over time

Skillful consultation helps to preserve love, harmony, and unity between a couple. The focus is coming together and reaching decisions that you can carry out in a united way. Learning to consult effectively is not easy for couples, but practicing and achieving excellence is worth it when the outcome is a happy and united marriage.