All relationships have conflict. Managing conflict is not easy. You might find yourself lost, looking everywhere for answers and solutions, but you just come up with empty handed and are even more lost and confused. Studies show that nearly 70% of conflicts in a relationship are unsolvable. This means you’ll have to deal with an issue throughout your marriage and work with it rather than eliminate it completely-or “resolve” it. Most people when they’re being honest really mean “convincing my partner to see it my way” when they say resolve. Working to understand, rather than be understood, is the goal.
Doing this might be hard, especially if it’s a bigger issue that might feel like a deal breaker in your relationship. Though it may be hard, trying your best to manage this issue will be more beneficial to you and your partners happiness over time. You can’t solve an unsolvable problem, so try to focus on how you can manage it and handle it more effectively.
Managing Conflict in Your Relationship
There’s three strategies or game plans to keep in mind when going through this and we’ll discuss them now.
The first strategy is about current conflicts. This focuses on staying calm when talking and not getting angry or too overemotional. That’s easy for me to say. Once you let your feelings go on their own the problem and conflict usually are worse. This is why it’s best to take a fifteen to twenty minute break if things feel like they’re getting out of hand. First, tell your partner that you need a break (never tell them THEY need the break, that can go horribly wrong), and let your partner know that you’ll be back, after calming yourself down, to see if you can participate constructively in the discussion. When you feel ready to talk with your partner again, calmly return to them.
Listening to your partner is also part of strategy number one. Even if you’re the one who just wants to be heard and listened to, you can’t forget your partners own feelings and emotions. They have things to say too, and if you want to be listened to then you must listen to them and understand their words too.
Strategy number two is about your past emotional injuries. These can be things that trigger you because they’ve been unsolved in the past and still effect you to this day. Triggers are often related to breaches of trust, so they’re very important to talk about to focus on healing your relationship and the problems within. Make sure to try to avoid being negative, as this can hurt your partner even more. Calmly speak and understand their point of view as well as your own.
Understanding what happened is very important. Taking responsibility for your actions and apologizing genuinely is what has to happen. Rather than making up excuses for your behavior towards your partner, apologize for what you did and ask them what they need from you. They are the one that is hurt, so remember to not be selfish in this situation.
The final strategy is about accepting the differences between you and your partner during discussions. Sometimes it can be hard when personalities clash while speaking with your partner. A perpetual problem is one that arises due to the differences in the individuals, that make up the couple. Learning to listen to the ways your partner is different than you is a winning strategy. Take turns speaking and listening to each other, trying to pick up on everything that they’re saying. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand, rather than pretending to understand to avoid conflict.
Your partner should always be in a safe space while speaking to you. They should feel comfortable telling you anything and not have fear of judgement. Listen to them closely and give them your time with generosity.
Couples Counseling Mountainside
Chuck Beardsley, LCSW is a level-3 Gottman couples counselor, and is a level 3 Relational Life Counselor. Chuck utilizes Mindfulness, ACT, and other contemplative practices in his work with individuals and couples.
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