Updated: Mar 1
Conflict is not only inevitable in a relationship, but it’s also normal. We are all different, with different views, experiences, and things that are likely to trigger us.
Past experiences will colour our view of our world. Whether they were childhood experiences, and how your parents managed conflict. Often a previous relationship where conflict wasn’t managed well can have a bearing on how we feel about conflict.
There are individuals who hate conflict because their experience was that it could only lead to heated, out-of-control arguments, maybe ending in violence.
There are those, (like me as a child) who experienced silences, long silences, which left me wondering what I had done wrong, and constantly on edge as to what I may do in the future that could cause displeasure.
What is most important is how to manage conflict.
We each have our own way of dealing with conflict because of past experiences. We developed coping strategies, whilst they may have worked in the past, those coping strategies aren't always the best now.
First of all, I suggest that you are kind to yourself and your partner. You have done the best you can, and probably still are.
Here are 6 tips to help you manage conflict more successfully
1. Have a chat with your partner, and talk about what happens when you are faced with some kind of conflict, disagreement, or upset. Having more understanding, and insights into how you react it, and communicating that to each other can offer some insight and understanding. Which can then help you each to support the other.
2. Acknowledge that whilst one person may need to try and repair the problem instantly, it can cause even more conflict, when the other person needs time to reflect, lick their wounds, and therefore withdraws before they are able to engage. By pushing to get the issue resolved it is likely to make the situation worse. So, it's important to allow time and space to feel calmer until you can each talk more calmly to each other.
3. that's why it's a good idea to calm and regulate your own emotions before trying to engage with each other. Take some time out, walk away, so that you are more able to talk to each other in a more reasonable way.
4. Use the ‘I’ statement when talking to each other. Once you point the finger of blame at the other person, by saying ‘ You……’ it is only likely to inflame the situation further. For example - 'I think' - 'I feel'.,
5. Listen to what your partner has to say, without interrupting, pulling faces or using negative body language. Each of you is entitled to your point of view, and to be treated with respect. You may even discover that they have a very valid point - or even a suggestion or perspectiveis that you may not have heard before in the heat of the moment.
6. Negotiate and work together to find a solution that partway works for each of you. Remember that each of you is likely to gain something and also lose something. But this way you are likely to feel understood and respected.
It's more important to find a solution than to be right
There is a really interesting Quiz from the Gottman Institute that may help you have more understanding and insights into your relationship, designed by the Gottman Institute. Here is the link