It's the rare couple who claims they don't have a few bumps or bruises from time to time in their relationship. Understanding and anticipating that life will throw a few curve balls along the way is essential if couples want to sustain a strong, loving relationship for the long-term.
Here is the scenario: a couple faces a conflict. How do they overcome it? Do they fight fair? Do they compromise? Do they walk away and the problem never gets resolved?
In a strong, solid relationship, couples will have learned how to navigate through their conflicts without doing harm, and, ultimately, improving their relationship.
The first step is identifying the conflicts. Oftentimes, one partner is surprised to hear what the other person considers a conflict because that partner didn't see it as one - hence the reason for the conflict.
In order to resolve conflicts, remember, the goal is to help the relationship, to learn to fight fair, to listen to your partner's thoughts and feelings, and find a compromise. What are you feeling in the heat of the moment, and can you manage those emotions without harming your partner with harsh words you will regret later?
Here are some tips for resolving conflicts amicably:
- Bring up one issue at a time. Don't bombard your partner with all of the things that have been bothering you. Discuss the matter at hand.
- Do not belabor the issue. Discuss it, resolve it and move on.
- Do not make the issue bigger than it is.
- Fight fair. Do not use degrading language.
- Express your feelings with positive words.
- Share what you are feeling. Don't expect your partner to read your mind. Often, couples will say, "you should know me by now." That's not always the case.
- Take turns talking, and do not interrupt when your partner is speaking.
- Sometimes, flight is better than fight. If you feel a fight is brewing, sometimes it is OK to take a break and walk away to cool off. But, remember to return and discuss the conflict so you can find a resolution.
- Don't yell. Often, when couples are trying to make a point, they start to raise their voice, which can cause additional conflict.
- Listen, listen, listen. So many communication breakdowns are a result of not actively listening to your partner.
- Show empathy. Sometimes, we think our feelings are more important than our partner's. This just isn't true.
Finally, find a level of compromise you both are satisfied with. Both people should walk away feeling positive.
The overall goal is to sustain a positive, loving, relationship that continues to improve and grow in strength through the years.
Rita Clark is a licensed clinical social worker with 20+ years of working in several capacities of human service ranging from early childhood development, juvenile delinquency, prison re-entry, sexual health and education, individual, group, family counseling, training facilitation, substance abuse and HIV. She received her Master’s Degree from the Eastern Michigan University School of Social Work. Rita completed the University of Michigan Sexual Health Certificate Program in Sex Education, Counseling and Therapy and is Certified as a HIV Testing Counselor and Partner Services. Her treatment approaches are Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Reality Therapy (RT), Solution Focused-Brief Therapy, Behavioral and Humanistic Therapies with an emphasis of using integrative approaches to maximize positive client outcomes.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Rita, call The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health at 248.399.7447.
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