All couples have conflict. What matters is how the couple handles it. If dealt with in a positive way, it can help the two grow and become closer, and form a stronger bond. Have you ever been so mad at your spouse and you didn’t know why? Have you ever been so upset about an ongoing problem with your significant other that you stopped talking to them about it and started talking to your friends (which drove the two of you even further apart)? What about having some issue that both of you don’t see eye to eye on, and the arguments keep surfacing? Or perhaps one partner feels that the other one just doesn’t love him/her or respect him/her? I would be willing to bet that one of these applies to your relationship. And, if this is the case, then this article can benefit you!
I come from the belief that most problems can be solved. Anytime there is a disagreement, this allows a chance for a deeper understanding between two people, and the discussion itself can lead to a stronger bond. For instance, let’s just say the couple is facing an issue where one of them (the wife)is working all the time and the other one doesn’t get to spend much time with her. Often, without conflict resolution skills, things can get downright ugly. The husband starts complaining about how she doesn’t care about him. The wife says that she has to work to pay the bills, or they will lose the house. The argument continues, and neither person sees the other person’s point of view. What could happen here is that the couple may continue to feel bad in the relationship for some time to come, until either the bills get caught up and the wife stops working so much, or the couple splits up. This doesn’t have to happen, and in most cases, doesn’t resolve anything. If a couple can work out a way to resolve conflict, a deep bond can form, and the relationship can stay healthy and last.
So what are the steps involved?
1. First, the couple must decide that they want to work together to resolve the issue. This is almost like saying, “We need help.” A commitment to working together is the first step in coming to any resolution.
2. Next, the two will sit down and decide on the issue/s. The couples will decide if they wish to address just one issue at a time, or to list all the issues and then work on them. The main issue in the above example is TIME. It can take awhile to get the hang of coming up with the main issue, but it is generally the main topic area of the disagreement. Subissues can be listed, such as paying bills, attending to feelings, etc.
3. At this stage, the couples will discuss feelings about the issue. Each person will tell how the issue is making them feel. The partner has to be willing to really listen here, and try to understand how the other person is feeling. For instance, the husband may say that he understands the need to pay the bills, but he is feeling really left out. It is as if she has forgotten about him and only cares about the work. He isn’t sure if she still loves him or is using work as an escape. He feels that she could budget her working time better, and still have time to be with him. The wife is upset with the husband, because she is trying to pay the bills to maintain their home. She feels that he doesn’t understand all the efforts she is making, and that this will benefit both of them. She thinks he is being really selfish.
So now, the couples may be able to see that the other one has a totally different view about the situation than what the reality is. The wife loves the husband, and she woudn’t be working if she didn’t have to. She isn’t neglecting him. The husband appreciates the work she does, but really misses her. Getting the underlying feelings out in the open is the beginning to working through the issues.
4. At this stage, the two will brainstorm about how to handle the issue. For instance, a list can be made of possible solutions. Here are some: the wife will meet the husband for lunch each day, and she will commit to coming home by 9 pm each evening so they at least have one hour together before going to bed, or the husband will help her with some preparation for her work, which will give them three extra hours per week to spend together. Perhaps they could set aside one day each week to devote entirely to each other. Or, maybe the husband and wife could both work 10 hours extra instead of the wife working 20 extra, and then they would have those other 10 hours to spend together. Being creative is key here, and during this stage, it doesn’t matter how silly the ideas seem. Some of the most extreme ideas can be the ones that end up working.
5. This step involves discussing the ideas from above, and figuring out which one will make them both happy. Maybe the couple will decide that the best thing to do is for the husband to help the wife with the work. They will discuss some of the best options, and what is good and bad about each one, and then decide.
6. Finally, the solution is implemented into action. The two will set up how the decision can work practically, such as what the husband will do to help and when this will happen.
By following these steps whenever there is a problem, many couples wrought with constant struggle will see that the relationship really is special, and will be able to appreciate the other for their individual contributions. Conflict resolution skills can help the couple stay together, stay happy, and stay strong.