Conflict is inevitable, and it can happen between anyone. Conflict is also typically experienced as uncomfortable and viewed as undesirable. However, there are many positives to conflict if you can manage your experience in a productive way. These positives include understanding your partner better, improving problem solving skills, broadening your knowledge, and ultimately strengthening your relationship.
Now you are probably wondering how you can manage your conflict in a way that enables you to reap the benefits of conflict. Below is a list of suggestions that can help.
Tips for Better Conflict Management in Your Marriage
Conflict typically occurs when two people have strong opposing views or beliefs. Take this opportunity to learn more about your partner. Try to understand where they are coming from, rather than focusing on expressing your belief. In this environment, your partner has room to be curious about your views and you can express them without leading to a conflict.
Let your partner express themselves fully before you come up with a response or interrupt. The conflict will often last longer if your partner feels like you aren’t hearing them. Reflect back to them what you understood and let them clarify if needed. This will lead to a much more rewarding and successful conflict conversation.
Refrain from pointing out perceived flaws in your partner or making intentionally hurtful comments during times of conflict. The impact of these comments will last long after the heated discussion has concluded, and will only create more conflict. Remember you entered this partnership to love and support each other, not tear each other down.
Reduce physiological symptoms
If you notice you are struggling to remain calm, pay attention to your heart rate, shakiness, or any other hyper aroused sensations in your body. Try taking slow, deep breaths to regain regular heart rate and reduce other symptoms. It is hard to think clearly and remain calm when your body is in hyper arousal.
If you are unable to calm your body during the discussion, take a break from the topic. Tell your partner that you are taking a time out, and you will resume the discussion in 20 minutes. During this 20 minutes, do something relaxing or distracting. Encourage your partner to do the same. At the conclusion of the break, your body will be more calm and you will be better able to successfully communicate.
If you try these tools and you still can’t seem to improve your experience of conflict, you may need the help of a therapist. Self-help tools are great, but there is no shame in needing a little extra support. Breaking old patterns can be challenging, but the reward is worth the effort.
About the Author
Kelsey Vincent is an intern at The Marriage and Family Clinic. She works with couples and individuals who struggle with emotional intimacy, as well as those who find themselves perpetuating destructive patterns. Kelsey enjoys all activities in the beautiful Colorado outdoors, including camping, mountain biking, snowboarding, and slalom water skiing