It does not matter whether you are dating, newlyweds, or a couple that has been married for years. Conflicts will inevitably occur in relationships, and healthy conflicts are a sign of a healthy relationship. Many of us refuse to engage in healthy conflict, however, insisting instead that we are right and the other person wrong in the strongest possible terms. This type of black-and-white view must be avoided in order to maintain a healthy and stable relationship.
The first step in handling conflict is knowing what your buttons are, and those of your spouse or partner.
Most people will have conflict in one of three big areas, finances, sex, and raising kids. When these important topics come up (and they inevitably will) it is important that both of the participants in the discussion be aware that this area has a long history of causing conflict in the relationship, and begin the discussion with the resolve to try and see the other person’s point of view and present your own in a logical manner.
When conflict arises, avoid negating the other person’s point of view. Do not take the stance of “I just know”.
Try to demonstrate why it is you think what you are stating, and listen carefully when your partner offers a rebuttal. Demonstrate that you have listened to what they have to say by repeating some of their statement.
Try to stay on topic- that is, discussing the immediate problem- as much as possible.
Try not to make blanket statements such as “You always do this” or other harmful sayings. Also, do not ever degenerate into name calling. Even using strong language in the form of swear words will tend to cause the other person to shut out any message you are trying to send. Avoid any physical forms of intimidation, as people are naturally inclined to become defensive in such scenarios.
This is particularly hard for men, who may not realize that what they think may be just outletting their frustration (ie slamming a hand on a table) is actually very intimidating to their partner.
There are definite deal breakers when it comes to conflict. Neither partner should ever physically approach the other in an argument, especially when it is becoming a heated one.
If the argument is really degenerating, it is very important to have the strength to walk away for a cool down period- odds are you are way off topic anyway by that point, and nothing at all will be resolved.
The final outcome in a conflict within a relationship should be that you and your partner are reconciled to each other. The problem must be solved within a reasonable time, the best is before the day is out. Letting problems fester is the worst possible route to take, as the conflict will inevitably occur again in the future. Finally, be prepared to say you are sorry, it will show that you care more about the relationship than the issue.
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