When things are going well in a relationship, communication comes easy. Unfortunately, when the going gets rough and disagreements start to arise, being able to communicate effectively with a partner becomes a bit trickier. Disagreements are an inevitable part of relationships and depending on how they are handled; they can either serve to damage or in some cases to strengthen the bond that exists between couples. Knowing what to do and what to avoid doing when conflicts arise in your relationship can help you to navigate problems with your partner in constructive ways.
WHAT TO DO:
- Be calm and respectful - Many times couples will engage in an argument in the heat of the moment, which often leads them to lose their tempers and sometimes say things that they will later regret. If you or your partner is very angry about something, give each other some time to cool off before attempting to discuss the matter. Keep in mind that depending on the nature of the conflict, some people might need more time to cool down than others.
- Accept responsibility - Although this is much easier said than done, it is crucial for you to keep your ego in check and be willing to take responsibility when you are wrong. Admitting when you are wrong will help build trust between you and your partner and will make it easier for the two of you to resolve conflicts.
- Be willing to compromise - Healthy relationships are usually characterized by a balanced level of give and take between partners. Make a commitment to work together with your partner until a mutually beneficial solution to the problem is reached. This often requires trying to look at the situation from your partnerís point of view and doing your best to understand where he or she is coming from. Cooperation is the key to resolving conflicts in most relationships. Remember that you are both in this together.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
- Donít attack each other - Couples who donít give themselves a chance to cool down will often put each other down, fling accusations around and say disrespectful things to each other. This kind of behavior, though sometimes unintended, can have disastrous effects on relationships. Avoid saying things to your partner out of anger without stopping to think about the potential consequences.
- Avoid seeing your partner like an enemy - When engaged in a disagreement, it is not uncommon for most people to become defensive and sometimes even obsessed with ďwinningĒ the fight. Donít forget that you and your partner are supposed to be on the same team. Disagreements are not battles to be won; they are obstacles to be overcome together.
- Donít bottle things up or make assumptions - Ignoring conflicts in relationships will not make them go away. The only thing that strategy is good for is building resentments that will eat away at the foundation of the relationship. You should also avoid making assumptions about what your partner is feeling or thinking since that typically has equally devastating results.
Sometimes couples can find it challenging to remain calm during an argument or to resolve issues through good old fashioned discussion. If this is the case for you, try expressing yourself in writing and encourage your partner to do the same. That way, both of you will have a chance to carefully reflect on each otherís point of view and to also express yourselves in a constructive manner.