Friday, October 28, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Ten Tips on Resolving Conflict

Conflict in a relationship is not necessarily a bad thing …. as long as it is resolved properly.

Living with another person is difficult and, unless you are clones of each other, there will be times when you disagree on issues. Actually, having a disagreement can be looked upon as a positive thing because it illustrates that each partner cares enough about the relationship that they both strive to be heard and respected.

More severe difficulties in the relationship can escalate when conflict is avoided because this can cause resentment and an eventual pull back of loving feelings to occur. Common reasons for avoiding conflict include: not knowing how to bring up a discussion about a sensitive topic; an unwillingness to experience temporary uncomfortable feelings in order to resolve a problem; and a fear of being rejected or ridiculed by a partner. 

Consider the following tips to help you maneuver your way through to a successful resolution, which may be considered a victory by itself.

1. Cool off. Take a few moments to collect yourself – maybe even more than a few! Just as you may give a child a time out, you can take one too so to preclude yourself from saying something you may later regret.

2. Listen. When cooler heads are prevailing, listen to your partner with an open mind and open heart.

3. Make room for different viewpoints. There are usually three sides to a confrontation: the way the woman sees it; the way the man sees it; and somewhere in between, the truth. We naturally view circumstances from our own perspective; so try to see the situation from your partner’s point of view.

4. Take responsibility for your part. Partners are very good at pushing each other’s buttons, but usually no one is totally innocent when disagreements arise. Express your viewpoint with "I" messages such as, "I feel," "I think" and "I want" rather than with finger pointing and blame (i.e. "You do this.").

5. Don’t make assumptions. Always gather all the facts before trying to resolve a problem.

6. Remind yourself that you love your partner. It is sometimes difficult to remember this fact when you are in a heated disagreement. However, if each partner treats the other with respect and honor during tension filled times, it allows a message to be better received and respect and honor to be reciprocated.

7. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Big arguments often start with little disagreements. Don’t brush off a partner’s complaints or cries for change simply because you don’t agree or don’t want to make any changes. A litany of ignored issues, but easily resolved, can explode when consistently deemed unimportant.

8. Don’t be afraid to apologize. When conflict escalates, it becomes hard to back down. We get stuck in our beliefs, even if they are faulty ones. There’s no shame to say, “I was wrong” and apologize.

9. Compliment your partner. Make sure to tell your partner all the things you do like about him/her while asking for some changes on a few issues. This will remind you that there is more good than bad in your relationship and that it’s possible for you to decide to agree to disagree on some subjects.

10. Conclude a disagreement on a positive note. If you can’t reach a resolution in one sitting, don’t walk away in anger. Decide to table the discussion until you can both gather more facts and have some time to assess your feelings/opinion towards the matter at hand. 

Many of these tips are not exclusive to romantic relationships, but may be utilized with children, friends and other family members, too.

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