Sunday, March 24, 2013

Conflict Resolution Rules (updated)




  • Stick to the problem at hand. Stay focused on the current problem, and don't accuse your loved one of “always" or "never" behaving a certain way. Putting your partner on the defensive is never productive.

  • Get on the same side. Rather than attempting to resolve an issue "my way" or "your way," work toward a solution that represents "our way." Working on a new shared solution is more productive than trying to get your significant other do it your way.

  • Don't be a mind reader and don’t expect your partner to be. Discuss your beliefs and expectations openly. Don't try to interpret your spouse's thoughts or motives from his or her behavior; instead, ask direct questions. Likewise, don't expect your spouse to know what you are thinking. This alone will avoid a lot of fights.

  • Do not move on until you resolve your conflict. Settling arguments takes hard work and can also take time. It is okay to take a break to calm your emotions down and think, but if you haven't reached an agreement by bedtime, put the matter aside with the understanding that you will resume discussion the next day. Don't leave yourself (or your relationship) vulnerable.

  • Avoid name calling or blaming. As you work to resolve conflict, it's okay to talk about circumstances and behavior. However, attacking your partner's personality or character is never acceptable. Use statements like:  “I feel _______ when ________ happens. Could we work together to find a way to solve that?”  If you make it about you, your partner will feel less defensive and more likely to work with you to find a solution.

  • Win the relationship not the argument.  When you are motivated to win the relationship rather than the argument you are much more likely to resolve the argument and not do any damage to the relationship.  

  • Remember that love keeps no record of wrongs. Be quick to forgive, quick to admit your own mistakes, and quick to move on from the conflict. Do not bring up old conflicts or mistakes your spouse has made. Let the past be the past and work to make a better future.

  • Keep your emotions under control. Take a break from the argument if your emotions are at a high intensity. Continue resolving the conflict when you can be calm.  When emotions are too high it is very difficult to solve problems rationally and you are likely to do something you will regret.

  • Each partner should apologize for something. No fight is just one person's fault. There is always something to say sorry for and this can have a very healing effect on your relationship. Use this format to say sorry and MEAN THE WORDS YOU SAY:
    • "I am sorry for_____________. It was wrong and I will try not to do it again."  When saying sorry never use "but" or any excuse.  
      • Ex: "I'm sorry I didn't communicate my hurt feelings in a more respectful way. It was wrong. I will try to do better next time." 

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