Knowing how to resolve conflict in relationships is essential to every couple. Disagreements with your partner can go from zero to 100 – real fast. Before you know it, the conversation has turned into an argument, and you’re not even sure how you got there. (Sound familiar?) With a few mental tools, you can stop a disagreement from escalating into a heated argument.
Here are 6 tips for helping a disagreement not turn into a fight:
- No one has to be right. Neither partner should win in an argument. If one spouse wins, that means the other loses, and no one should ever have to lose in a relationship. The point of arguing with your partner is not to be right or to win – it is to have your perspective heard and understood.
- Take turns speaking. You cannot make progress in a discussion if both partners speak at the same time. Allow each person to “have the floor” so they can say what’s on their mind. Both opinions are important so this ensures both opinions can be heard equally.
- Listen without interrupting. When your partner is sharing their feelings, listen intently with an open mind and don’t interrupt. If you interrupt, you are most likely going to interject how you feel about their opinion, which is where a lot of disagreements go sour. You will never settle a disagreement if one person constantly has to make a comment about the other person’s feelings. While your partner is speaking, be empathetic so you can see where they are coming from.
- Be transparent. It’s important that both partners are transparent and direct when speaking their opinions. A disagreement is not the time to be passive aggressive or to hope your partner takes hints on what you really mean. Say what you feel and don’t beat around the bush.
- Genuinely apologize. Once you and your partner have discussed your opinions and feelings, it’s time for both parties to give genuine apologies. Saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean that you were wrong, it means you recognize that your words or actions negatively affected your partner.
- Create a resolution. Now that you understand what upset each partner and why, it’s time to discuss how to minimize the chances of the same issue reoccurring. If you don’t do this, the time and effort that went into the argument was a complete waste! Also, without a resolution, the argument is not over and could pop up again in an hour or in three weeks. Take time to discuss what each person can do better to avoid another similar issue in the future. (Hint, if the resolution requires only one person to make a change, you should probably try again. Relationships take two people, so the resolution should require both parties’ involvement.)
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