As Valentine’s Day approaches, most thoughts turn to buying loved ones a card, candy or flowers. But there’s a big hurdle to jump before the year’s most romantic day: Red Tuesday. Red Tuesday is the Tuesday before Valentine’s Day when, according to a study conducted by the UK dating site IllicitEncounters.com, the largest number of people break up with their significant others. A sure way to avoid a breakup is learning how resolve conflicts in your relationship.
All relationships have conflicts. And all couples have their fair share of fights. The key to surviving conflicts and fights is to stop them from escalating.
By following these five ways to resolve conflicts, you can actually strengthen your bond rather than erode it.
1. Show basic concern for the other person’s well-being.
If both of you are insisting on his or her wishes and ignoring the other’s, you’re going to end up unhappy. A fundamental premise of good relationships is that the other person’s well-being is as important as your own. Don’t allow yourself to view conflicts as a zero-sum game (meaning, either you get your way or I get mine). Our happiness is dependent on our mate’s and vise versa. The two of you are inextricable. Its easier to navigate compromises when you know the other person is attuned to your needs.
2. Maintain focus on the problem at hand.
Hoo-boy, this is a big one! Don’t get sidetracked from the real problem. It’s very easy to start going down a long and exhaustive list of complaints once those flood gates are opened. By staying focused, you are less likely to make someone feel attacked or overwhelmed. When you stay focused, you’re able to listen and respond back and forth in a manner that shows your willingness to resolve a specific problem. When both people feel like they’re being heard, you’re able to bring each other closer together rather than further apart.
3. Refrain from generalizing the conflict.
Often we fall into the habit of small, almost ritual conflicts. This can include one person who sends the other to the grocery store for brand-specific items and the other is oblivious to brand name products. Or one person who clears away dinner dishes and puts them in the sink after running water over them, verses the other person who sets the dishes on the counter and lets the food harden on the plate. (Just to use two examples from my own household!) Everyone has different priorities and when you realize that your partner’s priorities don’t always align with yours, it’s best to try to figure out solutions that defuse these situations. If something is a high priority to you, why don’t you negotiate taking over that task and let your partner do something else instead? Learning ways around small conflicts is always better than letting them become a habit.
4. Be willing to engage.
By “engage,” I mean physically and emotionally. You’ve heard of the “fight or flight” response. Conflict–especially with someone we love–tends to make even the best of us want to bolt from the room. The reason is we don’t want to fight. We don’t want to say something hurtful or hear something that will be hard for us to forget once it’s out of our partner’s mouth. But, we have to fight that urge to flee. When you and your partner know that each other is willing to stay in the same room and resolve an issue, there’s much less fear that someone is going to snap and say something hurtful. Knowing that the other person is not going to storm out of the room makes it easier to be more open with your feelings. And to be fully engaged means you are also willing to listen and let your significant other gather their thoughts and try to put them into words without you jumping in to interrupt. The way to avoid saying the wrong thing is knowing that your partner is willing to let you find the correct words and listen to you without feeling they have to go tit-for-tat as if this conflict was only a competition to be won.
5. Effectively communicate feelings and needs.
As hard as it is to verbalize your feelings and needs, it is much worse when we mask our hurt with anger. If your partner is working all the time and you’re missing them and feeling neglected, it is understandable that you’d want to feel less vulnerable when voicing your concern. So, we respond with anger and accusations rather than hurt and vulnerability. Unfortunately, when we do this, we usually don’t get the reaction or solution we’re looking for. You can’t read your partner’s mind and they can’t read yours. But if you reverse positions, wouldn’t you feel more accommodating if your partner said, “I miss spending time with you” rather than “Why do you have to work so much?” You want to spend more time with your partner, but when you use anger to express yourself, you’re actually pushing that person away. When you’re willing to access your feelings and make yourself vulnerable, you’re pulling your partner toward you.
If you follow these five steps, you will resolve conflicts and strengthen your relationship. And you’ll be buying candy for Valentine’s Day rather than dreading Red Tuesday.
~ Piece by KH
These five tips were take from ATTACHED, available at these retailers: