Conflict is an inevitable stressor in any relationship.
And although tackling issues head-on with your partner can be uncomfortable, research shows that it's usually the best course of action. Over time, it can lead to honest conversations that benefit your relationship in the long run.
If you're looking for a few ways to repair conflict in your relationship, here are a few guidelines to make finding a resolution more sincere and less stressful.
Get in touch with your feelings
An essential part of conflict resolution involves you acknowledging how you feel and why you feel that way. While it may seem that your feelings should already be evident to you, this isn't always the case. Sometimes you feel angry or bitter but don't necessarily know why. Other times, you may feel that the other person isn't doing what they 'should be,' but you aren't aware of precisely what you want from them, or if it's even reasonable. Writing things down or journaling can be an effective way to get in touch with your feelings, thoughts, and expectations, so you can better communicate them to the other person.
Practice active listening
When it comes to effective conflict resolution, the way we listen is just as important as how we express ourselves. It's crucial to understand your partner's perspective, rather than just your own, if you plan on coming to a resolution. Supporting the other person to feel heard and understood can sometimes go a long way toward resolving a conflict. Good listening also helps you to be able to bridge the gap between the two of you, understand where the disconnect lies, etc.
Experiencing conflict in your relationship is inevitable. According to relationship expert John Gottman, couples who avoid it are at risk of developing a close relationship. Stop keeping score and focus on repairing disputes. Avoid getting defensive and showing contempt for your partner (rolling your eyes, ridicule, name-calling, sarcasm, etc.).
Instead, let your partner know what your needs are neutrally or positively. For example, using I statements, such as 'i'd like it if you would..' is more effective than 'you don't even invite me to do anything fun with you.' Criticism can be damaging to a relationship, according to expert Dr. John Gottman. Talking about specific issues can reap better results than attacking one another and help you avoid future conflict within your relationship.
Avoid attacking their character
Stay focused on what the issue is. What are you trying to accomplish? Acknowledge what your feelings are. If you feel angry, remember that anger is a secondary emotion. Underneath it usually lies fear, hurt, or frustration, so try to keep things in perspective and not attack your partner personally.
Acknowledge your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions. Excusing your behavior isn't the same as taking responsibility. Saying something along the lines of ' I guess I shouldn't have yelled at you, but I'm overwhelmed from work' is an excuse and only weakened your apology. But when you can acknowledge your wrongs and say something along the lines of ' I've been stressed at work, but it's not an excuse to yell at you' gives the other person more background that can help explain your actions. Even one partner's ability to do this can change the relationship's dynamic. Experts say that once one partner can do this, their response can change the other person's brain waves.
Practice assertive communication
An important aspect of conflict resolution is communicating your needs and feelings clearly. You may already know that saying the wrong thing can fuel a more significant fire and worsen the conflict. The critical thing to remember is to speak clearly and assertively without making the other person feel defensive. Try to put things in terms of how you feel using 'I feel' statements.
Seek a solution
Once you and your partner understand one another, it's time to find a solution you can both live with. Sometimes, a simple and obvious answer arises once both of you understand one another. In cases where the conflict is based on a misunderstanding or lack of insight, a simple apology can work wonders to the other's point of view, and an open discussion can bring people closer together. Other times, there's a bit more work needed. In cases where there's a conflict about something where both of you don't agree, you have a couple optional. Sometimes you can both agree to disagree; other times, you can compromise or find a middle ground. The important thing is that both of you come to a place of understanding and try to work things out respectfully.
Conflict can be an opportunity for growth
While we can't always avoid conflict, it's necessary to have approaches to repair the relationship. Conflict can ultimately deepen intimacy and bring couples closer together. A therapist can provide support and help you understand relationship conflicts and find ways to effectively repair them.
Keywords: conflict resolution, relationships