When you were young, you may have thought relationships were supposed to be “picture perfect.”
You may have thought that your friends’ parents had perfect relationships or you thought you had an idea of what a positive and strong relationship looked like from TV shows and movies.
In real life, relationships are more complex. There’s a lot more to relationships than just finding someone you enjoy spending time with; you have to find ways to bridge your differences.
Each person is different. They have their own personalities, thoughts, and opinions. Conflict is normal in any type of relationship. Conflict, as long as it’s resolved in a healthy way, can even bring couples closer to one another.
Here are 5 conflict resolution tips for couples.
1. Open Communication
Communication is key. When dealing with conflict, open communication is even more important. When expressing your problems, make sure you’re direct and clear. You won’t be able to work toward resolving the conflict unless both you and your partner know exactly what the problem is.
Once you communicate your wants and needs in an open and effective way, it will be easier for both of you to put a plan into place for working toward a resolution.
2. Keep Calm
Conflict can bring out the negative in people sometimes. No one actually enjoys disagreements or fights. Try to remain calm, so you don’t say and do things that are destructive to the relationship and hurtful to your partner. Think about what you want to accomplish before you speak, and whether what you’re about to say will work toward that end, or create a sea of regrets.
Being calm also means being respectful. Try to keep a normal speaking voice. Avoid getting angry, shouting, cursing, or making an uncomfortable space for you and your partner. Focus on the issue at hand and work towards resolving it together in a calm and respectful way.
3. Don’t Play the Blame Game
Blaming someone never ends up solving a conflict. Blaming the other person can actually make the conflict even worse and will move you further away from conflict resolution. If you end up blaming someone, they will immediately become defensive.
When you feel a certain way, express that. Try to avoid comments that blame the other person like, “You did this” or “You’re crazy.” Instead, take responsibility for what you bring to the situation or conflict: “I get really mad when I don’t get my way. Then I’m likely to say hurtful things. I’m sorry. This is something I want to change about how I handle myself with you.”
Keep the focus on the problem at hand. It takes two people to have a relationship, so that means it requires two people to fix the conflict at hand.
4. Stick to One Issue
With an argument, it’s easy to pull from things that may have made you mad in the past. Whether you discussed the issue previously or if you were mad at the time and never brought it up, the past is the past. Try to stay present and in the moment. Pulling situations from the past won’t make the present any better, and it could even lead to more arguments.
One issue is a lot easier to resolve than many. Instead of having what I call a “kitchen sink” argument with more and more grievances, focus on the current issue and work toward resolving it in a calm and timely way.
5. Be Open and Listen
A resolution is a lot easier when you’re willing to be open to your partner. Kick your ego to the curb and consider both sides of the disagreement. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and try to see where they’re coming from.
Every relationship can have struggles. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. If you’re having trouble with conflict resolution, couples therapy may be a great opportunity to get everything out in the open with a third party to help facilitate the conversation. Couples therapy can be a great way for you to work through any conflicts together and strengthen your relationship. Reach out to me to learn how I can help you.