Two persons with different characters and needs juggling with the stresses of parenting, finances, career and so on, will inevitably disagree at some point. Conflicts act like a warning system calling attention to deeper underlying problems and unresolved issues.
The problem with conflicts is not failing to see eye to eye but not managing the ensuing disagreement in a healthy manner.
Identify and define the conflict
Write down the things you want to talk about as this helps collect your thoughts and work through issues logically. Narrow down the seemingly endless problems to what the actual issue is.
Explore your feelings
Anger may seem like the predominant sentiment but what you’re actually feeling could be hurt or disappointment. Identify and express your emotions openly and honestly instead of talking around them. When a person believes they’ve been heard and understood, it’s easier to move forward.
Be solutions focused
Identify the outcome you each want, then work out possible solutions that you can both agree on. Pick something that works for both persons rather than forcing something that is too farreaching for either one.
Listen, listen, listen
Concentrate on what your spouse is saying without having any pre-conceived judgements, don’t interrupt (whether audibly or in your mind!) and always clarify what the other person has said before expressing your views.
Be willing to forgive
Forgive your spouse for any hurt caused through words or action. Your ability to forgive is directly related to your spouse’s ability to rebound from conflict, and move on.
Know when to call a ‘time out’
If there is no resolution in sight and things are getting out of hand, agree to step away separately to calm down both physically and emotionally, and re-focus on the conflict on hand, not the mixed feelings. Return to the discussion only after both parties are feeling calmer to re-negotiate.
Signs of conflict
- Discomfort. Intuitively you feel something is just not right but can’t quite put a finger on it.
- Minor conflict. You get irritated over small incidents that seem too small to fuss over.
- Misunderstanding. You jump to conclusions and make wrong assumptions about your spouse’s actions.
- Tension. There’s an uneasy, negatively charged feeling when you’re together.
In times of conflict, couples should never…
- Ask the children to take sides.
- Scream, shout, get physical or show other disturbing behaviour.
- Threaten to, or actually, walk out of the home. Going into another room to calm down is acceptable.
- Hurl personal insults at each other.
- Involve other members of the family especially in-laws.
- Bring up old, supposedly resolved fights.