All married couples have disagreements. In order for a relationship to be safe and meaningful it must have ground rules and boundaries. Conflict is best managed within some ground rules.
1. Deal with one issue at a time. Stick to the subject. When attempting to resolve a conflict, stick to only one issue without bringing in other problems. When you feel defensive about an issue, it’s natural to bring up something else and deflect the conversation. Storing up lots of grievances and hurt feelings over time is counterproductive. It’s almost impossible to deal with numerous old problems for which recollections may differ. Try to deal with problems as they arise.
2. State problems in the first person using an “I” message instead of a “you” message. Rather than “You never take out the garbage unless I have to ask you over and over,” say, “I feel like you are part of the team when the garbage gets taken out. Thank you.”
3. Avoid motive analysis. It is natural to analyze your partner’s personality or try and discover the “why” of your partner’s behavior. Rather than inferring motives in a conflict, deal with the problem behavior. “I think Betty Ann would really enjoy you surprising her at her birthday party” rather than, “You are always to busy to pay attention to your own family.”
4. Know your own feelings. Seek to grow in self-awareness. Being in touch with your own true feelings is essential before you can constructively handle anger or conflict.
5. Don’t hesitate to confront each issue. In the normal course of relationships, do your best to with issues quickly instead of trying to sit on your discomfort and suppress your concerns. Last week’s issues tend to be like rotten fruit.
6. Allow a cooling-off period. Establish ground rules that permit either partner to “cool off” before trying to resolve anger. It may be necessary to walk or engage in some other physical activity in order to allow anger to dissipate.
7. Look for “win-win” solutions. When someone loses in a conflict the relationship loses and so does everyone involved. Try jointly to arrive a mutually satisfactory solutions.
8. Keep your fights to yourself. It does no good to gossip about your partner to others. Exceptions would be when more serious problems suggest the need for a good relationship coach.
9. Avoid name-calling, insults, put-downs or swearing. Putting your partner down or criticizing your partner’s character shows disrespect for his or her dignity.
10. Yelling only escalates things. Chances are nothing will get resolved when your emotions are running so high. You may be angry, but keep your cool. If you’re mad and feel like yelling, then it’s time to step away and cool down.
11. NEVER mention the “D” word! In the heat of an argument, threatening to leave the relationship is manipulative and hurtful. It creates anxiety about being abandoned and undermines your ability to resolve your issues. It quickly erodes your partner’s confidence in your commitment to the relationship.
12. Let one person speak at a time. When one speaks, the other should be listening—really listening, not just planning their rebuttal. Take turns speaking and listening so that you both have a chance to say what you need.
How you argue – especially how you end an argument – can determine the long-term success or failure of your relationship. A primary requirement for any fight is to maintain control. Always treat your partner with respect, even in the heat of battle. Fighting fairly with respect for one another is a critical marital skill that you must learn.
Remember that you love each other. Never say anything that you might regret later.
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.
Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking BLOG” at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com