Conflict is an inevitable part of even the best relationships.
Whether you call it fighting, disagreeing, or discussing, most relationship could benefit from less suppressed of feeling and more honest effort to resolve conflict. If you claim you have never had a conflict in your relationship, chances are one of you is not expressing their opinions or needs and will most likely end up resenting that position.
Conflict is not the problem; it is how you handle disagreements that can become the problem. When conflict escalates to a continued struggle or battle it becomes a problem. Disagreements are natural and healthy, and when handled properly they can strengthen rather than weaken your relationship. Your challenge is to face up to and resolve disagreements, rather than stuffing feelings and building walls. We like to encourage clients to build bridges rather than walls.
The following are principles that will allow you to resolve conflict in a fair and positive way:
Bite Your Tongue
Rather than allowing yourself to call your partner names, cut them with sarcasm, belittle them or in any way be disrespectful to them—bite your tongue. If harsh words pass your lips, apologize immediately. The words that you say in anger will be burned forever in your loved one’s mind; don’t say things that you will regret and can never erase.
Validate Your Partner’s Point of View
Validation does not mean agreement, but it is one of the fastest ways to take the heat out of a disagreement. When your partner feels heard and understood they don’t have to keep saying the same things over and over again. Say something like, “What I hear you saying is . . .. Have I understood you? Really try to understand what they are saying and keep the sarcasm out of your voice. Make the Problem the Problem
Work together to solve the problem, rather than attacking each other. Use "I" or "we" statements instead of "you" statements. Don’t take things too personally and stick to one problem at a time. Refuse to drag up the past to fling at your partner.
No one wants to hear how he/she should be more like their brother or sister. They also don’t want to hear how they are exactly like their mother or father. We don’t even want to be compared to our younger selves, such as your used to have hair or a great body.
Stick to the Topic
In order to resolve a conflict or issue it helps to deal with one issue at a time. Dumping all your unresolved conflicts on your partner at once, is like adding gas to a fire you are likely to create an explosion. If there are multiple issues pick one and deal with it.
Stay Calm and Use Time Outs if needed
Nobody's deaf, when you start to yell, you sham the door on any possibility of a compromise. If tempers are flaring and you find yourself losing control put the argument on "hold" or call a "time-out." It is important when deciding to take a time out to agree to meet back at a specific time when things have calmed down a little. During your time out try doing some physical activity like walking around the block or taking a shower to calm tempers.
Look for the Truth
Often in emotional fights, truth usually takes a back seat. Try not to have a “don’t confuse me with the facts” attitude, where you maintain your position no matter what. Try communicating the facts clearly. Don’t assume that you know what your partner is thinking or feeling. Always ask. Try to see things from their point of view, as if you were walking in their shoes and had their feelings and background. This doesn’t mean you agree, just that you want to understand.
Be Solution Oriented
Work together to solve the “problem.” Don’t drag in family or friends to gang up on the other person. Try out this phrase, "What can we do together to solve this problem? I am willing to do the following…" Then state what you are willing to do and then do it.
Forgive and accept each other
It is always a good idea to keep in mind that this is someone that you love and care about. Your relationship is more important that your differences. Acceptance and forgiveness are what strengthen rather than weaken your relationship. When you can accept and love each other despite your differences your bond grows stronger. When the argument is over, do something healing, such as hug or say, “ I love you."