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Family & Relationship Issues

Repairing Damage to an Intimate Relationship While Having Conflict

Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT

Is it more important for you to protect your relationship than it is to win a fight?

fighting coupleCan you disagree without being disagreeable?

Are you able to keep the love showing while conflict is flowing?

If your answer is “yes” to all of these questions, then you may not need to read any further. If any of these presents a strain for you; however, there may be some useful tips here for you.

All couples disagree. According to researcher, Dr. John Gottman, it is usually about the same things over and over again. In fact, his research points out that about 2/3rds of all disagreements are usually about the same issues.

Some couples are masters at working through conflicts and keeping a good relationship as their primary focus. They truly disagree without being disagreeable.

Couples who can find ways to repair any damage to the relationship while they are having a disagreement, or, as some might call it, a fight, have more than half of the battle won. It makes so much more sense to compromise with or acquiesce to someone that you like and with whom you have a good relationship.

For others, repairing damage while disagreeing requires learning new habits and skills.

Repair Damage While Disagreeing

Here are some suggestions for ways to repair damage to a relationship during conflict.

Realize that there are many different ways to reach a solution and both of you can be right. There is rarely only one way to solve a problem. Entertain the idea that many different ideas need to be considered before settling on something that fits. Thinking of the conflict in this way invites you both to consider a bigger picture.

Recognize that different styles beget different ideas. Most often, neither is inherently wrong. Many partners have different approaches to issues like parenting, finances, sex and others. Respect each other’s ideas as valid even if different from your own.

Use lots of phrases to calm down the tension. Some phrases to consider are ones like:
“I love you and I want us to find a way to work together on this.”
“We have figured out ways to work through this before, I feel certain we can do it again.”
“I am starting to get upset and I know that this is not the best time to discuss a difficult subject. How about if we take a break and talk again after dinner?”

Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. When having a disagreement, think that maybe, just maybe, your partner may have an idea that he or she wants you to consider and is not out just to “get you” or be disagreeable.

Humor helps a lot. The more that you can laugh together or at yourself (not at your partner) the more likely it is that overall good feelings about each other and the relationship will keep you focused on a positive solution.

Stay positive in your conversation. Talk about what you like and want more of rather than what you do not like and want your partner to STOP doing or change.

Above all, keep in mind that the person you are disagreeing with is your life partner. He or she was, and hopefully still is, your best friend. Talk together in ways that show your respect and love.

 

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