How to handle conflict when it strikes your relationship
How to handle conflict – it doesn’t have to be hard
How to handle conflict is one of those life skills crucial to master in order to live happily with others. It really doesn’t matter whether you are dating, newlyweds, or a couple that has been married for yonks because conflicts will inevitably occur in all relationships (friendships too!) and healthy conflicts are a sign of a healthy relationship. Never disagreeing with your partner (or a friend) is rare indeed and even the closest relationships can be challenged by a conflicting difference of opinion. It’s just the way life rolls.
Conflict can be healthy
Conflict can be healthy and, guess what? It doesn’t need to be something that we shy away from as, when we learn to handle it, it can be harnessed to enhance relationships. It’s definitely a learned skill though and one that requires practice, ummmm please note here that I’m NOT suggesting you start lots of conflicts to train with, mind you. There’s an all-too-common way of dealing with conflict that many of our generation were raised with and that’s the good ‘ol “I’m right, you’re wrong, you can just shut up now” approach to disagreements but this is not only unhealthy, it’s downright unhelpful and is to be avoided in order to maintain a healthy and stable relationship.
The first step
The first step in handling conflict is knowing what your buttons are, and also those of your spouse or partner. Try to pinpoint what really gets up your nose and challenges you. In a domestic relationship most people will have conflict in one of three big, broad areas: finances, communication, and raising the kids. When these important topics come up (and, yep, they inevitably will) it is important that both parties begin the conflict resolution process with with not only the intention of presenting their own point of view in a logical manner but of also trying to see the other person’s point of view.
- avoid negating the other person’s point of view – their opinion matters
- be very clear in what you are wanting to say, and listen carefully to their thoughts on the matter
- demonstrate that you have listened to what they have to say by repeating some of their statement.
- try to stay on topic ie discussing the immediate problem and not let a thousand other issues get rolled into the discussion
- try not to make blanket statements such as “You always do this” or other harmful sayings.
- do not EVER degenerate into name calling and avoid swearing as to do sol will tend to cause the other person to shut out any message you are trying to send.
- avoid any physical forms of intimidation, as people are naturally inclined to become defensive in such scenarios.
- be prepared to say you are sorry, it will show that you care more about the relationship than the issue.
Sometimes it may take more than one attempt at conflict resolution in order to resolve a difference and there are some absolute deal breakers when it comes to conflict. Neither partner should ever physically approach the other in an argument, especially when it is becoming a heated one. If the argument is really degenerating, it is very important to have the strength to walk away for a cool down period. More than likely you are way off topic anyway by that point, and nothing at all will be resolved.
The final outcome after a conflict occurs within a relationship should be that you and your partner are reconciled to each other and just remember that all relationships remain a work in progress. Everyone loves a happy ending, right?
Will you do anything to avoid conflict or are you a fair fighter?