07 Feb How to work with conflict in your relationship
Conflict, having a blue, screaming match, arguing, respectfully disagreeing, and so on and so on…there are lots of ways with which we engage in and describe the manner with which we engage in conflict.
When we engage within conflict in our relationship, we can often view this as a negative and we may pass a judgement. We may wish that we both agreed all the time or that we could agree to disagree respectfully and peacefully. Truth is, all couples have conflict, it is how we manage that conflict that is an indicator of how healthy our approach is.
You say Tomayto and I say Tamarto
The fact that we are in a relationship with another individual who was raised by different people and has different hopes and dreams, means that there will be times when we don’t see eye to eye. We will have a different perspective on something and potentially wish for a different outcome to our partner. It is how we communicate this and how we hear this that will be key.
To Fight or not to Fight, that is the question!
Learning to dialogue respectfully is something you can learn, if you don’t already do this. Listening and communicating clearly are key. The art of listening, truly and deeply with the intent to understand is a significant part of the process in managing conflict in a healthy way. Another significant part of the process is stating your case without criticism or contempt.
So, when you are expressing your opinion, keep to “I” statements and away from ‘you’ statements. Also, try to lead with your emotions which will give your partner a clearer idea of the impact the situation has on you. Then express your positive need, not want you don’t want but what you do want.
“How so?” you say
For example, if you say to your partner “You never clean up the dishes and I am sick of doing them myself” Your partner hears a criticism of their behavior, which often leads them to defend themselves, and then a statement about what you don’t want. The result, either you are feeling unheard or an argument begins or both.
You could try “It makes me feel resentful (emotion) when I notice that the dishes are waiting for me when I return from work and I would love if you did the dishes every other night (positive need)”.
This last example allows your partner to hear how you feel about the situation and what you are wanting to happen.
Give it a try and see what happens. Remember the aim is not to eliminate conflict from our relationships but to have healthy dialogue around the conflicting views.
If you feel you would benefit from relationship therapy, you can always reach out to me.