Relationships are hard work. Many times throughout the duration of a relationship, there are conflicts. How you handle these conflicts is important to keeping your relationship happy and secure. Conflict resolution is often recommended by counselors when advising couples on how to handle situations that may potentially cause a problem. How can you use conflict resolution in your relationship?
- When a conflict occurs or you feel that a conflict may arise from a certain situation, it is important to identify and definethe conflict. As you are beginning to argue or disagree over something, both of you in the relationship need to take a step back from the disagreement to realize what is occurring and why. If the problem is that one of you is upset over the other one's lack of housecleaning effort, the person who is upset must first identify the problem. Then you both need to sit down together to define exactly why it is a problem.
- When you identify the problem with your loved one, don't use a rude tone of voice or impose blame. Problems are rarely one-sided and no one wants to listen to anyone who is speaking rudely. Try using a calm tone of voice and remember your loved one has feelings. Be sensitive yet straightforward when identifying the problem you perceive.
- Remember not to bring up past, unrelated conflicts or quarrels at this time. Focus instead on this exclusive conflict in order to resolve it best.
- Once you have identified and defined the problem, you must agree to work through the problem until you have come to a resolution. This means finding time to work out what is wrong. Do not just sweep the problem under the rug or act like it isn't a big deal. If something is bothering someone in a relationship, then both parties need to agree to resolve it together. If you don't resolve it, often it festers and grows or causes more problems in the future. If you are not able to sit down and discuss the problem with your partner at the exact moment the problem arises, set a time to do so and stick to this time. If necessary, you may end up spending quite a bit of time talking and trying to resolve the conflict. That is okay!
- When the time comes to talk, each of you must express your individual feelings about the issue. Don't beat around the bush or downplay just how you are feeling. Use 'I feel' statements when expressing yourself -- things like, "I feel angry that I do all of the household chores," or, "I feel like you don't think you should be helping me." The partner should listen to those statements and respond with an appropriate, non-defensive statement such as, "I really appreciate all you do around the house. I often feel overwhelmed when you constantly tell me that I am not doing enough to help you out." 'I feel' statements can be very powerful when communicating with your loved one. It is important to also remember to let your partner speak without interruption. You should be given the same courtesy in return when it is your time to talk.
- Once you have expressed your feelings about the issue, it is time to express what you want from the other person. Tell your partner exactly what you want from him or her. "I would really appreciate a little more help from you around the house from now on." This is a good way to phrase what you want, without expressing blame or using anger. Once again, this isn't the time to bring up past conflicts in your relationship. Every time you need to utilize conflict resolution in your relationship, you should only be focusing on the current issue at hand. Keep the old stuff out of it; it does no good to dredge up past arguments.
- After you have both discussed exactly what you want from your partner, it is time to come up with ways to actually do it! Let's say you are upset about the lack of help around the house and your spouse agrees to help you more. Once you have come to this conclusion, brainstorm ways to achieve the goal. It could be as simple as just relying on your loved one to take the initiative and do more, or it could be that you will write down a list of things for your partner to do around the house. It really just depends on the couple in the relationship. The point is to find a feasible solution for both of you.
- Implementing the solution is the final step in conflict resolution. Both people in the relationship should follow through with the agreement. It is important to continue to discuss the issue and to make sure that the agreement is being honored and that both people involved are happy with how it is going.
Conflict resolution is a healthy way to solve problems as they arise in a relationship. Why not give it a try in yours and see what happens?