Conflict That Doesn’t Kill Love

conflict resolution tipsIt would be unnatural if you didn’t have arguments sometimes with the person you share your life with. Аfter all, we are all individuals and have different ways of dealing with the world.  It’s normal to disagree and argue sometimes.

However, how we go about arguing can make a huge difference in the long term health of our relationship.  Learning some simple steps and keeping some rules of engagement in mind can go a long way towards reinforcing your love instead of tearing it down.

A lot of arguments happen over hurt feelings- usually hers. These confrontations can single-handedly ruin your relationship. When you take an “I’m hurt” confrontation and turn it into a win-at-all-costs-power-struggle, you are eroding the bond between the two of you.  Some men by nature, seem to view disagreements as competitions to be won, or feel they have to defend themselves against accusations that haven’t been made.

If she’s hurt, instead of getting defensive or angry that you are being “blamed” for something, try to listen to what she’s telling you.  It’s not a competition, it’s a chance to understand what upsets her so that you don’t do it again in the future OR help her to understand your actions so that they don’t hurt her- often these things are the result of a misunderstanding.

Some arguments are over power.  Who gets to pick the furniture, where to go to eat, or how to spend the communal money are issues in which both sides want to win.  Some ground rules:

No Contempt. Contempt is the #1 indicator of a relationship that isn’t going to last.  If you resort to name-calling, eye rolling or putdowns, you might as well start dividing up the stuff and look for a new place to live.

Focus On Decision. Do you really want to win every argument? Never forget that not every battle has to be won. Just find win-win decision and finish it with great hug/kiss.

Reflective Listening. Make sure you understand what the other party said by repeating what you just heard.

“You are saying that my wagon wheel table can never have a place in our home?”

“No, I’m saying that it doesn’t work in the living room.  You can put it in the basement where we are going to have a game room.”

Clarifying what you think someone is saying to you can go a long way towards heading off nastiness and making sure that what you heard is what they meant.

Not every conflict can be settled so that all parties are happy, but you can argue without damaging the core of your relationship.  If you are prone to really hurtful, drawn-out fights, it helps to see a counselor to practice healthy conflict management skills.

Read more about conflict resolution on Wikipedia.