Debbie's Blog

Resolving Conflict in Relationships

January 17th, 2011

Here are some tips that will help you resolve conflict when your relationship is being tested.

1) Discuss what is bothering you.
A lot of people think that by avoiding discussion of a problem that the problem will eventually just go away. In fact, quite the opposite happens. By not airing your concerns, tensions rise and resentments fester and a much bigger argument eventually results. So it is important to let your partner know exactly what is coming up for you in the way of concerns or frustrations in a calm and respectful manner without blame. It is much healthier to quickly address and resolve conflict in a relationship. You will find that many times talking it out and expressing your feelings results in bringing the two of you closer.

2) Try not to get defensive.
Rather than addressing a partners concerns or complaints with a willingness to understand the other person’s point of view, the defensive person denies any wrong doing and works hard to avoid admitting to the possibility that they maybe contributing or even causing the situation. Denying responsibility may seem to let you off the hook for the short term, unfortunately, it creates long term problems when partners feel unheard and conflicts and resentment continue to grow. So when your partner expresses a grievance, listen, then a great technique is to use a tool called active listening. Acitve listening is when you actually.repeat to them what you just heard them say. Next you validate their concerns ie. “I understand how you might see it that way”. Then talk about your feelings with an open heart and mind.

3) Stay current.
Avoid starting sentences with phrases like: “You always…and “You never..” as in,”You always show up late!” or “you never do what I ask!”. Try not to generalize. One other thing to keep in mind is that bringing up a past conflict is nonproductive and only stirs up more negativity. So only talk about the issue at hand while leaving the past exactly there, in the past.

4) Give up having to always be right.
Since we all have egos we all want to be right. However, it’s quite damaging to a relationship when one partner decides that there is only one way to see things and that is their way. Don’t demand that your partner see things the same way and don’t take it as a personal attack if they have a different opinion than you. It is said, ” you can be right or you can be in relationship” so look for a point of compromise or simply agree to disagree and that two points of view can both be valid.

5) Ask, don’t assume.
After years of being in a close relationship with someone it is easy to assume we know what they are thinking or how they are feeling. Unfortunately, many times what we feel certain another is thinking or feeling is based upon faulty interpretations of their actions. Often we rarely assume the good, instead we assume the negative. For example, deciding our spouse doesn’t care enough to be on time or that if our spouse still found us attractive he or she would tell us. Making a conscious effort to assume the good i.e., “he has a really good reason for being late” or “he has a really good reason to be so quiet” goes along way in a relationship. When you ask for more information from this point of intention you will see your partners wilingness to share be far greater and more loving.

6) Avoid making Character attacks.
Many times people will take a negative action from their partner and blow it up into a personality flaw. For example, if a husband leaves the toilet seat up a woman amy find herself looking at it as a character flaw and label him “inconsiderate or lazy”. Or, if a woman is wanting to discuss a concern within a relationship, labeling her as” needy or too demanding”. Make it a personal commitment to always come from a respectful place even though you don’t like the behavior and leave the character attacts out of the discussion.

7) Don’t stonewall.
If your partner wants to discuss a troubling issue involving the relationship don’t defensively stonewall by refusing to talk or listen to your partner. Stonewalling shows disrespect and in certain situations even contempt and also allows the conflict to get proportionately larger. Stonewalling drives a wedge between two people creating hard feelings and damaging a relationship. It is always healthier to listen and discuss with your partner in a respectful and loving manner.

Remembering these 7 tips of more effective communication can make even the most difficult relationship situation easier. Using these tips will help you to resolve the conflict more quickly relationships and help avoid the contempt that sometimes builds between two people. The good news is that if you will sharpen your communication skills your intimacy level rises as does trust and support. Now that’s worth working towards!
See you next month!