Handling Marital Conflict
At some point conflict happens in the best of marriages. Each couple handles that conflict in different ways. John and Julie Gottman, founders of the Gottman Institute, have written a book that may help save your marriage. These two psychologists offer what should be a fairly easy solution to the problem of marital conflict. Some of the advice they offer in their book 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage... is, couples should use common sense and restraint when they come up against conflict issues. However, that can be difficult if tempers flare.
Some marital conflict is inevitable. However, you can help to change or at least soften some of it. Renovating your marriage - Some do's and don'ts:
- Treat your partner like a good friend. Pay attention to what’s going on with your partner. Act in an empathetic and caring way, just like good friends do. And listen, listen, listen.
- Be gentle and kind when handling conflict. Do not lock yourself into such a rigid position that there is no “wiggle” room for you or your partner.
- Listen carefully and respectfully to your partner.
- Be open to being influenced by your partner. Being stubborn or domineering in a relationship is bad news--it won’t get you where either of you want to go.
- When trying to repair your conversation, find some way to break the tension. A bit of humor may help.
- Do not attack your partner’s personality or character by starting your comments or statements with "You always" or "You never."
- Try not to be in a state of constant defensiveness. Don’t counter attack your partner to defend your innocence. Be careful not use this "counter attack" stance to keep you from taking responsibility in the relationship. The best defense is a better offense, does not work here.
- Stay away from eye-rolling, sarcasm, belligerence, name-calling and mocking. Do not allow what starts off as a discussion turn to direct criticism, which can quickly leech into hostility.
- Do not simply pull away from the conversation and pretend to have no reaction, or worse ignore your partner. Stonewalling is most often attributed to men, but women are guilty of this also.
- Turn toward your partner. This means that you’re not going to turn against, or away from your partner emotionally while you discuss difficult issues. If your partner turns toward you during an argument and offers a smile, and you turn away by remaining stone-faced, you’re headed for trouble. You must show that you accept your partner’s attempt to make an emotional connection. Soften your approach. When you broach sore subjects, do it in a kind and caring way.
- Don’t start out by insulting your partner.
- Show that you are going to be a willing listener.
Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America's Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship is definitely worth reading and sharing.
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