To have successful couple relationships, we need the 4 C’s: Chemistry, Communication, Commitment, and Conflict resolution. Yes, even soulmates can sometimes disagree. Conflict is not necessarily fun, but if we deal with it positively, we can end up closer than if we’d never had the conflict in the first place.
Remember that (1) nobody’s perfect; and (2) even someone who loves you may not always agree with you. In addition to a deep sense of friendship and enough similarities to get along (values, lifestyle, etc.), part of the fun of relationships is having enough differences to keep life interesting. Since no one is an exact duplicate of anyone else, there is bound to be occasional conflict in every relationship. Addressing the area of concern–while minimizing hurt to each partner–is the key.
Tips to conflict resolution:
- Set aside time to talk when you are NOT furious. Take time to cool off first. Remind yourself of the things you DO appreciate about your partner.
- Focus on the present. Don’t bring up past hurts right now.
- Make a “sandwich.”
- Start by saying that you care about your partner and the relationship.
- Then bring up what is causing the problem. Focus on the behavior–no name-calling. Tell your partner what happened, as you saw it; how you were affected; and what (if anything) you would like him or her to do about it.
- Reiterate your caring for your partner and how you hope the relationship will improve as a result of your discussion.
- Give your partner a chance to respond, while you listen. (You had your chance to talk; now it’s your partner’s turn.) How did he/she feel about what happened? Does he/she have a different view? Truly listen to what your partner is saying; don’t try to figure out what you want to say next.
With today’s divorce rate at 50%, it’s clear that keeping a relationship healthy is a challenge. If you’ve decided to seek counseling as a couple, you’re taking an important first step. Together we explore what is going on–both what’s working and what you’d like to improve–and decide how to get things back on track. Our goals may include improving communication, strengthening the friendship between you, illuminating how the past has shaped each of you, and helping you get more enjoyment out of being together.