The first step to conflict resolution in relationships is to avoid name-calling, insults, putdowns, or swearing. Discuss the issue, not the person.
Degrading language can be an attempt to express negative feelings while making your partner feel just as bad. This can lead to character attacks, while the original issue is lost.
2. No blaming
Blaming your partner distracts you from asking for what you want and gets in the way of solving the problem. It also invites your partner to be defensive and will likely escalate the argument.
3. No yelling
If it feels like yelling to your partner, it probably is. Make a conscious effort to lower your voice and neutralize your tone.
4. No use of force
Including pushing, shoving, blocking an exit, grabbing, hitting, punching, slapping, restraining, damaging property, throwing things, or breaking things. Each person has a right to feel safe and be free of harm or threat of harm.
5. No talk of breakup or divorce
In the heat of an argument, threatening to leave the relationship can be manipulative and hurtful. It makes the problems in the relationship feel bigger than they need to be.
Agree that if you ever decide the relationship must end, you will discuss this together in a thoughtful and calm conversation – not in an argument.
6. Define yourself, not your partner
Use words that describe how you feel, what you want, and what is important to you – not what your partner feels, wants, or believes.
Starting with “I” is a good technique to help you take responsibility for your feelings. “I feel angry.” “I feel hurt when you don’t take my phone calls.” “I feel scared when you yell.” (no, you can’t say whatever you want as long as it starts with “I”).
7. Stay in the present
Keep your focus on this one issue. When an argument veers into the past, it can easily become about everything a person has ever done wrong. We’ve all messed up.
Try to release any judgment and avoid making each other wrong. Instead, focus on understanding each other and helping each person get what they need and want.
Also watch: What Is a Relationship Conflict?
8. Take turns speaking
Let one person speak at a time. Slow down, breathe, and be careful not to interrupt. If this rule is difficult to follow, try setting a timer allowing 2 minutes for each person to speak without interruption.
Don’t spend your partner’s minutes thinking about what you want to say. Listen to understand, validate what you can, and practice empathy.
9. Take a time – out if things get too heated
In a perfect world, we would all follow these rules 100% of the time. If an argument starts to become personal or heated, take a time-out. Agree on a time to come back and discuss the problem so that you can both feel comfortable and calm, creating a solution together.
10. Attempt to come to an agreement and understanding
Do your best to come to an agreement that you both can live with. How can you each take better care of yourselves, the relationship, and each other? If you would like support, reach out and schedule a session. Everything is possible, and there is always a way.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Hello, my name is Rachel Madorsky, LCSW. I help individuals and couples people create their ideal relationship by becoming more accepting and real with themselves so that they can make whatever authentic changes they would like to make. Im an experienced psychotherapist, marriage counselor and relationship coach and believe everyone can have a happy, healthy relationship. If I can do it - you can too.
My approach is down-to-earth and collaborative. I teach actual tools that you can you can start using right awayto improve your communication, contentment and closeness. Through profound and honest conversations, and a healthy dose of laughter, we will improve and empower your relationship with more love, more joy and more peace. I welcome individuals and couples (same-sex, heterosexual, or figuring-it-out) who are looking to improve, heal and enjoy their life.