All relationships, whether romantic or not, have their fair share of disagreement and conflict. But it’s especially true of long-term relationships.
In fact, Katharine Hepburn once said that “marriage is a series of desperate arguments people feel passionately about”.
It’s challenging to resolve the disagreement and effectively relieve the associated tension. However, resolving conflict is critical to the health of any relationship.
How successful have you been at coming to a mutual agreement when there’s been disagreement?
Remember these ideas the next time a conflict arises:
1. Adopt an attitude of seeking a solution – not trying to win. It’s important to keep the goal in mind, and the goal is not to prove that you’re ‘right.’ The goal is to understand the other’s point of view, communicate your own, and then search for a solution that meets both of your needs.
-If the goal is to win, the relationship suffers. In a great relationship, both of you should feel safe expressing your discontent and trust that resolving the issue will make the relationship better.
2. Speak up before something becomes a major issue. If he’s driving you crazy by not replacing the cap on the toothpaste, bring up before it’s happened for the 50th time and you’re on the verge of screaming. We all wish others could read our minds at times, but to date, no one has been proven to have that ability.
-Avoid saving all of your hurts as ammunition to be fired during the next fight. Doing so only makes it more challenging to find middle ground. Bring up the issues as they occur.
3. Be clear about what’s bothering you. Be specific and address the behavior. Saying, “I get upset when you leave your dirty clothes all over the floor. I would be happier if you put them in the hamper.” will go over better than, “Why can’t you pick up your clothes?”
-Address the behavior. Avoid attacking the person. When you attack the person, they will attempt to justify and defend themselves. Little will be resolved this way. Remember that you’re upset by what they are actually doing, so limit your complaint to that.
-What’s the real issue? Exaggerations, generalizations, and half-truths simply create more issues. For example, if your spouse claims to be upset about your traveling for work, maybe they’re really upset about the stagnant status of their own career.
4. Listen to the response. Often times, the person that’s upset isn’t in the mood to listen. If you want to solve your dilemma, you must listen to make progress. Remind the other person to address the behavior and not let it become personal.
5. Now it’s time to seek a solution. After you’ve both had a chance to present your perspective, brainstorm a solution together. Be willing to compromise, but that doesn’t mean you have to give in. Giving in just postpones the fight to another day. Be ready to forgive and move on when a solution is reached.
-Avoid involving others that are part of the disagreement. It really doesn’t matter what your mother thinks or her best friend believes. It’s between the two of you. Strive to keep it that way.
Fighting fair isn’t just the loving thing to do. It’s also the best way to reach an agreement and diffuse the situation.
You’ll know that that a good solution has been reached when both parties are satisfied and the issue doesn’t come up again in the future.
Make an effort to fight fair and you’ll enjoy stronger, more loving relationships.
photo: Corey Butler/flickr