Relationships are made up of two individuals with different temperaments and personalities. As a result, disagreements are going to occur. It’s not a matter of if a problem will arise but how to solve it together.
1. Take a Break
There is great wisdom in the stop and “count to 10” advice. This time allows for a time to avoid reaction that can inflame the situation. Taking a break can be, I think I need to take a walk to settle down or let me just have some time to myself and let’s come back and work on this. This does NOT mean storming out or avoiding the problem all together. It’s a cooling down period to hopefully usher in reason and logic as opposed to reaction and anger.
2. See the Other Side
Once the strong feelings have settled then take a moment ,if you need to, in order to stop and look at the situation through the eyes and heart of the person you are arguing with. If you do this consistently, in time you will grow to understand the person instead of being inclined to attack them. This takes practice which requires a decision, a choice and eventually is will become a positive habit.
3. Find Common Ground
Think about the things you agree on and can find commonality in. If you can outweigh the negative thoughts with positive ones, you will find it much easier to resolve your conflict. You can start to remind each other that you are partners rather than enemies.
4. Really Listen
It’s natural to want to explain your side, be defensive and shut off listening to your partner. This only alienates and causes hard feelings. Sit and absorb what the other person is saying. Ask questions about their point of view. Repeat back to them what they are saying in order to clarify if you are understanding them correctly. This will take the conflict from hostile back to a place where you actually care what the other person is thinking and feeling. This goes both ways.
5. Compromise When Possible
If at all possible, compromise and negotiate. There are times when too much is at stake to give up your position and find middle ground, but most of the time it is quite manageable to find a solution that can eventually work for everyone. Work together to find a way for everyone to feel that the outcome is reasonable.
6. Let It Go
If you have gotten caught up in a mess that seems impossible to resolve, decide to end it immediately. If you are in a conflict with someone who is important to you, remind yourself that the relationship is worth more than being right. Forgive each other and move on. It is rarely worth winning an argument if you lose an important relationship in the process.
It is important to understand that not all couple’s issues can be resolved easily. A qualified counselor can help to provide tools and strategies that bring you both back onto safe and common ground. You are a work in progress and the time spent on nurturing your healthy relationships will be worth it in the end.