The key to relationship success is not entirely avoiding conflict, as it’s not possible to do so, but instead reacting maturely and productively when conflict does arise.
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Improve your chances of avoiding capsizing when that first wave of conflict appears in the calm ocean that is your current relationship by learning some handy tips for not just getting through, but actually improving, in the fact of disagreement.
Rule 1 – Remain Calm
Is it REALLY the end of the world if your partner leaves the milk on the counter instead of putting it back in the fridge? Rational you says no, enraged-because-this-is-the-fiftieth-time-I-have-put-this-freaking-milk-away-and-how-hard-is-it-to-do-this-anyways-you’re-32-years-old-and-I’m-not-your-mother you would beg to differ.
Don’t make a small issue into a massive one by blowing up over something that’s not, in the grand scheme of things, worth it. Avoid this by giving yourself time before approaching an issue. If you start to have a conflict and you feel yourself getting heated, retreat to your respective corners and let yourself calm down before you continue the conversation to ensure that you don’t erupt.
Rule 2 – Pick Your Time And Place
Not only should you give yourself time after a conflict-inciting incident so you don’t erupt with anger, you should also allow time to pass so you can pick your perfect time and place. For the sake of your relationship, talk through conflicts when you are without an audience.
Also, consider having your conversation while you’re doing something that’s naturally calming. Relationship expert Terri Orbuch PhD suggests that couples have these types of conversations while engaging in a physical activity such as hiking or walking as these activities are naturally calming.
Rule 3 – Specify Your Issue
All too often, conflicts become snowballs rolling down a steep and snow-covered hill, picking up speed and growing as they approach the bottom. Don’t let your conflict do this. State specifically what is bothering you and keep the conversation focused only on that issue.
Don’t bring up other sources of conflict – particularly ones you have already put to bed. If you do you will only make the wedge that separates you and your lover larger and more difficult to traverse.
Rule 4 – Discuss Without Blaming
There are no winners in the blame game. Even though you may truly feel that the thing about which you are arguing is wholly and unequivocally your partner’s fault, pointing your finger at him won’t get him to agree with you. You’ll be more successful in solving your problems if you focus on your thoughts and feelings, not your partner’s actions.
Stick with “I feel…” statements. By telling your partner not what he has done wrong, but how you feel about the current situation, you can both avoid blaming him and enable him to see the impact that he is having on your emotional well-being.
Rule 5 – Share The Talking Time
No one likes to be subjected to a lecture. You stand little to no chance of successfully resolving a conflict by chastising your partner in the same fashion you would a puppy who piddled on the floor. For successful conflict resolution, you need to share the talking time. Voice your concern, then allow your partner to state his position. Try your hardest to truly listen to what he is saying and, even if you don’t fully agree with it, attempt to understand why he would feel that way.
The more successful you can be in putting yourself in his shoes, the more successful you will ultimately become and bridging the gap that divides you and ending the night snuggled up under the same cozy comforter.