Two bulls fighting

Managing Conflict….. there is a better way

Conflict and relationships go hand in hand. Whether the relationship is a parent with their children, brothers and sisters, or between couples in a marriage or relationship.

Inherent in all relationships is the inevitable differences of opinion, understanding, memory and interpretation, which, when handled poorly, typically leads to conflict.

Communication and Understanding

Whilst the occurrence of conflict is quite normal between all couples, managing the conflict in a healthy manner is often highly unpredictable.

People who have a difficult time understanding each other often resort to ineffective methods of conflict resolution. These are typically characterized by using fight, flight, freeze or appease tactics, and ultimately lead to the breakdown of relationships.

A shortlist of behaviours that lead to marriage breakdown include the following:

  • Shouting
  • Avoidance
  • Name-calling
  • Gaslighting
  • Disrespect
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Drug use
  • Blaming
  • Taking too much responsibility

Pick Your Battles

While sometimes a couple with good conflict management skills may exhibit these beahviours, it is when these behaviours become the normal way to deal with issues of upset, that the marriage will be harmed.

The negatives continue to manifest for couples who have dysfunctional methods of managing their conflict as the pain and hurt experienced begin to compound for either or both people.

How can you….

  • Predict when dysfunctional conflict will emerge between an otherwise loving couple, and
  • What can you do to prevent dysfunctional conflict from happening?

Our Marriage Counsellors have found that couples with a good ability to communicate are better able to provide additional information to the matters in dispute, and thereby both people are able to gain a better understanding of their concerns. Which leads to problem resolution and happy couples.

These couples are able to inform their partners about key aspects of the matter they are in conflict with, which then allows the other partner to act in a more thoughtful and appropriate way. As a result there is less relationship damage, and more likely to create a stronger sense of togetherness.

This in actually the critical point: good communication helps reduce misunderstandings and conflicts, and increases the chances of a relationship being successful.

Tips to avoid the compounding effect of conflict include:

1. If your partner has a complaint or matter of concern,

  • Prick your ears up…
  • Pay attention, and
  • Act on it ASAP;

This piece of advice is vital….. avoid it at your peril…!

2. Keep practicing:

  • Develop your communication skills until you are getting consistent positive results
  • In particular, learn how to listen to your partner in a manner that leaves them feeling in no doubt that they are loved;

3. Be quick to reconnect with each other following a conflict;

4. Ensure that the matter is resolved and not just consigned to history.

5. Be vigilant, try not to repeat the same conflict;

6. Get help from a marriage counsellor early if the patterns of dysfunctional conflict emerge;

Through developing healthy communication practices, couples are likely to have successful conflict resolution attitude, skills and abilities, ensuring that their marriage will last a lifetime.

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