How to Weed Through the Muck of Relationship Conflicts
According to the Couple’s Connection (2016), 51% of couples feel that one of their major relationship conflicts is finances.
There is nothing worse than arguing with the person you love. You’re right, your partner is right, but, regardless of who is actually right, you are both left feeling angry, depressed, frustrated, and/or downright yucky. Truth-be-told, most couples have several areas/issues that need improvement and/or resolution, whether it is how you handle finances to how you communicate, but it’s important and wise to only conquer one area/issue at a time. Why? Well, because if you try to tackle too many areas/issues you probably won’t get any of them resolved and your conflict will grow wings and become an unsightly monster. No, the best thing to do if you are going through a rocky time filled with many bumps is to tackle one bump at a time. Even relationships that are filled with issues and conflicts can recover and bounce back stronger than ever. All you need is a joint commitment, determination, trust, respect, and love – lots of love. You are up for that, right? I thought so! So, let’s get started breaking down your conflicts into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Listed below are ways that you can resolve your conflicts with your loved one:
Be Willing to Compromise
I know – I know it’s mighty hard to “compromise” when you are as mad as an angry hornet, but it is imperative, if you want to resolve any conflicts, big or small. In other words, you have to have an open mind and open heart in order to make any traction on the issues you are having. It does not have to be all or nothing when you are experiencing a conflict. It is possible for both of you to “win.” You just have to be willing to see things from your partner’s perspective. Why does your partner feel the way he or she does? Have you done anything to contribute to the situation? What are you willing to sacrifice in order to find a resolution that works for both of you?
Being angry at the person you love is so tiring, so why prolong your misery just to prove a point? Is it really worth it? I bet there is something that you can compromise on if you try. So, try! Try really hard and keep trying until you both give a little. You know the old saying “You have to give a little to get a little.” Come on, if your partner wants to spend more time with you, but you like going out with your friends every weekend, why not compromise and go out with your friends two weekends out of the month and do things with your partner two weekends a month? See how easy that is? Compromise is the key to tackling any relationship conflict.
Tackle One Issue at a Time
As I mentioned above, it’s important that you choose one area/issue to work on at a time. Trying to address a 100 issues at one time, while only cause both you and your partner more stress and frustration. Choose one area/issue and focus on resolving it before moving on to the next area/issue. Should I focus on the issue that is less pressing or the one that is causing us the most amount of angst? Well, that depends on you and your partner. More specifically, if the area/issue that is causing you the most problems (i.e. anger, frustration, hostility, depression, etc.) is too overwhelming to address or work on at that time, then, maybe you and your partner should table that discussion for a later date – when you are both calmer and in a more positive mind frame.
In that case, you should probably work on the area/issue that is causing you the least amount of distress – a small, minor issue that needs resolution. For example, a small issue may be working on complimenting each other at least once a day. You and/or your partner never feel appreciated by the other. A more pressing issue may be working on spending more quality time together in the evenings – going out on dates, cooking together, watching television together, and/or talking while in bed or at dinner. You and/or your partner feel abandoned or lonely because you and/or spouse never have time for each other.
On the other hand, if the issue that is bothering you and your partner the most is severely affecting your relationship to the point where you are considering breaking up or you feel like you can’t function properly until the issue is resolved, then, you should probably address it immediately. But, do it once you have calmed down and can think rationally. The fastest way to break up a relationship is to address an issue when you and your partner are angry and “hot-headed.” If you can’t keep you demeanor when you are alone together, agree to meet at a public place like a restaurant or coffeehouse to discuss the issue. The key to weeding through the muck of relationship conflict is to tackle one crisis at a time. The universe wasn’t made in one day, after all, so you probably won’t resolve everything that is “wrong” in your relationship in one day either.
Find Common Ground
I know it doesn’t feel like there is any common ground when you are in the midst of conflict, but trust me there is. If you look really hard, I’m sure there is something that you and your partner can agree on. What? Well, maybe it’s that you both feel like your communication is lacking, or you both wish that you had more time together. If all else fails, hopefully, you can both agree that you love one another and are committed to working through these issues together. It is important to understand that you and your spouse are not going to get anywhere by fighting each other and deliberately disagreeing. In order to weed through the muck of your relationship conflict, you are going to have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is by focusing on what you two have in common, in regards to the issue.
More than likely you probably feel the same way, but express your frustration in different ways. In other words, you may both feel unappreciated, but a lack of communication prevents you from expressing your feelings to one another. Well, I hate to tell you this, but you will never resolve your issue if you cannot or will not communicate with one another. In fact, in order to find common ground, you are going to have to talk to one another – really talk to one another. You are also going to have to be open hearted and open minded. You are going to have to want to resolve your issues, if you don’t then you will continue to experience conflict. Once you find common ground, you will be better able to work on the issue that is causing you distress.
Listen to Each Other
One of the first things you and your partner must do to resolve your issue is listen to each other – really listen to each other. Sometimes people “listen” to each other when they are arguing, but they don’t “actively listen” to each other. In other words, they only hear what they want to hear or what they need to hear to validate their points. The problem with this strategy is that nothing ultimately gets resolved. In fact, the problems only grow. To tackle your issue, you must hear each other out. What is your partner saying? How does he or she feel? Why does he or she feel like you aren’t paying him or her attention anymore? Is there any validity to what he or she is saying? What could you do to make the situation better (i.e. give your partner more attention…)? How do you feel about what your partner says? Do you feel that you are getting enough attention from your partner? What can you both do to improve your relationship? Could you listen more actively? Could your partner listen more actively? Summarize or repeat what your partner is saying to you, so that he or she knows that you are “actively listening” to him or her, and ask him or her to do the same for you.
Lastly, and most importantly, in order to resolve your issue you will have to forgive one another – regardless of whether the transgression is big or small. Once you have worked through the issue and resolved it, you must forgive one another; let it go, and move on – to the next issue or on with your life as a couple. If you cannot forgive one another, then you will never get past the conflict and your issue will never be completely resolved. In other words, it will resurface over and over again until you truly forgive one another.
Couple’s Connection. (2016). Did you know this about money? Retrieved from http://thecoupleconnection.net/articles/did-you-know-this-about-money
Preston, N. (2012). How successful couples resolve conflicts. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201212/how-successful-couples-resolve-conflicts
Segal, J. & Smith, M. (2015). Conflict resolution skills. Helpguide.org. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/conflict-resolution-skills.htm