3 Proven Tips for Healthy Conflict Resolution

Fighting – or conflict if we want to get a little fancy with our words here – is a normal – even healthy part of any intimate relationship. You know this is true. Unless you are a “Stepford Wife” or “Stepford Girlfriend”; do you remember this movie? The one where the wives were killed and replaced with robots who were programmed to look and act like the perfect wife? Ugh, gross – I am cringing. Anyway, since you are not a Stepford Wife (thank goodness) – you and your partner are not going to feel and think the same way about every issue and/or situation that comes along. In other words, you and your partner – both having a mind of your own, are bound to disagree and hence, fight at times.

Therefore, the trick to maintaining love and intimacy in your relationship is NOT to avoid the fact that you and your partner may be angry with each other or feel differently about some issues; rather it is to bring these angry and/or differing feelings out into the open so you are both fully aware of them. And this is where tip #1 begins – communication.

1. Communicate your feelings about what is bugging or upsetting you.

I wish I had a nickel for every time someone told me: “I shouldn’t have to tell him/her that I am upset about blah, blah, blah (whatever it is the person is upset about) – he/she should know. HELLO?! Well maybe he/she should know- but so what? If they don’t know – tell them. Your relationship is not a game – with a winner or loser. You don’t want to go there. Your relationship is a partnership – so act like it is and communicate your feelings – There is too much at stake to be playing a guessing game.

2. Listen to what your partner has to say. That’s right- you’ve said your piece about what is bothering you or how you are feeling about a particular situation. Now it is time for you to be quiet and let your partner tell you how they feel about the situation – and what you just said.

Don’t interrupt them and be truly open to hearing their side of the issue and conflict. There is a pretty good chance you played some role, albeit minor, to get you to where you are feeling now. Now relax, I am not suggesting that you are to blame – I am only suggesting there is no such thing as a one-handed clap. Got it?

3. Be open and willing to compromise – and forgive – if the situation calls for it. Chances are your partner did not deliberately set out to upset or hurt you. Misunderstandings and miscommunications happen all the time.  Hey, we are all only human and we all need to be able to compromise and forgive at some point in our relationship – if we are in it for the long haul. Remember, the future might call for you to be forgiven by your partner – so what goes around, comes around.

And while we are talking about compromising, let’s not forget that sometimes we need to be able to “agree to disagree”, respectfully, of course.

The next time you and your partner are not on the same page, or in disagreement over some issue – make sure you tell your partner. They can’t read your mind and they don’t have a crystal ball. After you have said you piece, zip it and listen to what your partner has to say. Finally, be ready and willing to compromise and forgive – whatever the situation might call for. There is no value in you winning the battle only to lose the war. And finally, it is okay to respectfully “agree to disagree”.

Relationships are like life – they take you down paths and roads that twist and turn and often take you off course. The secret is to enjoy the journey with the one you love – and don’t sweat every unexpected detour and pothole that comes your way.

Rekindle Romance and Happiness in Your Relationship,

Dr. Patty Ann

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