“Every relationship needs an argument every now and then. Just to prove that it is strong enough to survive. Long-term relationships, the ones that matter, are all about weathering the peaks and the valleys.” ~Melchor Lim
All relationships, whether romantic or not, have their fair share of disagreement and conflict. But it’s especially true of familial relationships. It’s challenging to resolve the disagreement and effectively relieve the associated tension. However, resolving conflict is critical to the health of any relationship.
How successful have you been at coming to a mutual agreement when there’s been disagreement?
Try the following ideas the next time conflict arises:
1. Adopt an attitude of seeking a solution – not trying to win. It’s important to keep the goal in mind, and the goal is not to prove that you’re ‘right.’ The goal is to understand the other’s point of view, communicate your own, and then search for a solution that meets both of your needs.
* If the goal is to win, the relationship suffers. In a great relationship, both of you should feel safe expressing your discontent and trust that resolving the issue will make the relationship better.
2. Speak up before something becomes a major issue. If he’s driving you crazy by not replacing the cap on the toothpaste, bring up before it’s happened for the 50th time and you’re on the verge of screaming. We all wish others could read our minds at times, but to date, no one has been proven to have that ability.
* Avoid saving all of your hurts as ammunition to be fired during the next fight. Doing so only makes it more challenging to find middle ground. Bring up the issues as they occur.
3. Be clear about what’s bothering you. Be specific and address the behavior. Saying, “I get upset when you leave your dirty clothes all over the floor. I would be happier if you put them in the hamper.” will go over better than, “Why can’t you pick up your clothes?”
* Address the behavior. Avoid attacking the person. When you attack the person, they will attempt to justify and defend themselves. Little will be resolved this way. Remember that you’re upset by what they are actually doing, so limit your complaint to that.
* What’s the real issue? Exaggerations, generalizations, and half-truths simply create more issues. For example, if your spouse claims to be upset about your traveling for work, maybe they’re really upset about the stagnant status of their own career.
4. Listen to the response. Often times, the person that’s upset isn’t in the mood to listen. If you want to solve your dilemma, you must listen to make progress. Remind the other person to address the behavior and not let it become personal.
5. Now it’s time to seek a solution. After you’ve both had a chance to present your perspective, brainstorm a solution together. Be willing to compromise, but that doesn’t mean you have to give in. Giving in just postpones the fight to another day. Be ready to forgive and move on when a solution is reached.
* Avoid involving others that are part of the disagreement. It really doesn’t matter what your mother thinks or her best friend believes. It’s between the two of you. Strive to keep it that way.
Fighting fair isn’t just the loving thing to do. It’s also the best way to reach an agreement and diffuse the situation. You’ll know that that a good solution has been reached when both parties are satisfied and the issue doesn’t come up again in the future. Make an effort to fight fair and you’ll enjoy stronger, more loving relationships.
What are your best tips for “fighting fairly” in a relationship? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below.
Ask any counselor and they’ll tell you that no relationship is perfect and we can all do things to strengthen them. With this in mind, let’s take a look at 4 ways that we can make small adjustments that will really cement that relationship bond.
A little gratitude goes a long way
Remembering to thank your partner may seem a little obvious but you may be surprised at how much those two simple words could mean. Studies have shown that on days where one partner said ‘thank you’ to the other, the recipient felt more relationship satisfaction. This is something that many relationship and marriage counseling services in Orange VA and the surrounding areas teach.
Have fun and joke around
Okay so maintaining a relationship is undoubtedly hard work and when you get into the nitty gritty of living together such as working, paying the bills, cooking and cleaning, quite often fun is one of the first things to disappear from a relationship. Ask any marriage counselor that if a lack of fun has been cited as a couple’s reasons for seeking help and you can be certain that the answer is going to be yes. When you can use fun to handle the tough stuff in relationships, then things get resolved far easier. Do inject some humor back into your relationship.
‘Go to town’ on good news
We all expect our partners to be there for us when times are tough, But equally important is how couples respond to each other during the good times. Counselors, Culpeper VA state that individual’s whose partners respond in an enthusiastic and interested manner tend to report a greater satisfaction in their overall relationship.
Say it with words
One of the most powerful exercises that sessions of couples therapists undertake is to get each party to write down their feelings. Being able to express your feelings using good old fashioned pen and paper in the form of a love letter or a romantic poem often gives far more meaning than even the most expensive of gifts.
Whether you decide to say thank you more often, say ‘I love you’ with a poem, or inject a bit of humor back into your relationship, it is possible to enhance it and cement that bond, by doing these little things.
As Joko Beck, an American Buddhist nun, writes in Everyday Zen:
So a relationship is a great gift, not because it makes us happy—it often doesn’t—but because any intimate relationship, if we view it as practice, is the clearest mirror we can find.
I don’t spend much time looking in a mirror these days. Like many women, I’m sometimes unhappy with what I see—the signs of sun damage, for example. And my neck—let’s just say that when Nora Ephron entitled a book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” I knew exactly what she meant.
Fortunately, I’m pretty adept at looking at what I do like, and there’s plenty there, like a warm smile and a strong body with lots of energy to do the work I love. But looking in a mirror also reminds me to take better care of myself, especially to be more diligent about applying sunscreen.
All relationships are mirrors
In a similar vein, if I think of a relationship as a mirror, and I don’t like what I see, I think it’s a great opportunity to be more diligent about applying self-love. In particular, it’s an opportunity to take responsibility for my own feelings.
One of the least true phrases in English is, “You made me feel (insert bad feeling here).” We say it so often because we think that something someone said or did (or didn’t say or didn’t do) makes us feel a certain way.
But what if we decided to tweak our thoughts, so that instead of thinking, “That made me feel bad.” we think, “That helped me feel bad,” and “That thing”—whether it’s a natural disaster or a domestic downturn—“helped me feel vulnerable or unworthy of love”?
Thinking about it in that way qualifies as self-love because it opens our hearts and minds to the possibility that we can act to make things better.
Open your mind and your heart
For example, one of my clients had a conflict with her partner this week: after it was over, she bemoaned the fact that she acted badly. She sent her boyfriend contrite texts and quickly became distraught when he didn’t respond. It was only much later, after they had resolved their conflict, I suggested that she ask for his help in the future.
She could say, “When we have a conflict in the future, it would help me if we took a break as soon as we notice we’re getting stuck. When I feel better, I’ll send you a text and it would help me if you let me know you got my message shortly after I leave it. You don’t have to respond with anything more than that. I respect your need for time to process your feelings. I’ll look forward to talking with you when you are ready.”
You are responsible for making it right
Thinking about things in that way puts the responsibility squarely on us to make it right. We figure out what we can do to help the situation —and there is always something we can do. And we can ask others for what they can do to help us.
We can apologize and make amends if we transgress. We can remind ourselves that we are learning and growing, and we are going to make mistakes along the way. We can remind ourselves that we are worthy of love and acceptance no matter what.res
And so in the mirror that is our relationships, we are often presented with the image of ourselves as vulnerable, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
As in everything else, we have a choice: we can always shift our focus, see something different, and put everything together into a different story.
And once we do that, we will look in the mirror and begin to see someone vulnerable and strong, someone capable of learning from our frailty and making our relationships everything they can be
Is there any greater gift we can give ourselves, or the people around us?
“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs.” ~ John Dewey
Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut? The way you approach each day largely determines the kind of life you have.
At some point, you’ve most likely experienced a troublesome event until you decided to adjust how you looked at the situation. Then, once you altered your perspective, you were able to clarify the issues and find a solution.
Try these strategies to alter your perception for more positive results in your life:
Entertain the improbable. Maybe you don’t think something is possible. But what if your desire could become a possibility by just changing your perspective? For example, maybe you’ve tried dieting over and over again without getting the results that you want. But what if this time, you shift your perspective from dieting to changing your lifestyle. You could then state with confidence, “I am losing weight and getting fit.”
Vow to be more accepting. New people and situations are inevitable. Sometimes, the best way to change your perspective is to be open to new ideas brought by your new acquaintances. Why not see what happens if you’re more open-minded and accepting? Tell yourself you’re letting go of your “old” templates for looking at things.
Seek a more positive lifestyle. Whenever you want to enhance your life, shift the way you see something to a more positive position. Let’s say your two sisters went out shopping and didn’t invite you to go. You might feel left out, rejected, and even angry about it. But what if you were to view the situation differently, even positively? Perhaps they didn’t really plan to shop. Maybe it happened spontaneously out of a need they both had to go shopping for something right then. Plus, your birthday’s coming up in 2 weeks. Maybe they’re planning a special surprise for you. Recognize that when you focus on having a more positive life, your perspective will change for the better.
Avoid any old ways of looking at things. When you make the connection that your perspective is what creates any discontent you feel, you can then choose to view things differently. For example, let’s say you usually think your boss gives you the project with the most work just because he wants to dump on you. What would happen if you were to shift your perspective to the idea that your manager trusts you most to successfully complete the most challenging projects? You’d feel a lot differently about your boss, job, and your own abilities.
Give people another chance. Even if someone has upset you, entertain the idea that it wasn’t intentional. Maybe they were having a rough day or made a mistake in judgment. Perhaps a misunderstanding took place between you. One of the best ways to get out of a rut is to change how you respond to those around you. A beautiful strategy to change your perspective is to let go of a grudge. Try it, you’ll love it. After all, grudges and anger hurt you far more than they hurt the other person.
If you want to get out of a rut, try applying these techniques to change your perspective. You’ll discover the power you have over your own life and be thrilled with the results.
When I was in college, I rented a basement from a friend and her boyfriend.
Things went great until their relationship began to deteriorate, at which time my friend moved out.
We all agreed that I would continue to rent the basement, at least until they decided what to do with the house.
In the few weeks I lived there after my friend moved out, her boyfriend began to go into my things while I was gone, taking things and doing who knows what else.
He made it no secret either–on several occasions he confronted me about various items or information he found among my private belongings.
And then, one day, I woke up and found that he’d climbed into my bed while I slept. That was the last straw. He had violated my privacy and now he was violating my personal right to choose who was allowed in my bed.
Since I couldn’t wait until I found an apartment to move out, I crashed on a friend’s couch for a few days while I located a new place.
When I finally did, I was very happy–except for the overwhelming anger that kept looming in my subconscious. Every time I turned around, something reminded me that he had hurt me, violated me, upset me. And that he wasn’t the only one who, by the time I was 19 years old, had done so–some in even more harsh ways.
Negativity begot negativity, and I started seeing more and more of it in my life. I struggled with it for months, falling into depression after depression. I felt like I was completely worthless, drowning in my own thoughts.
One day, as I sat wracking my brain about how to get over this anger, I thought I heard something. I was alone in my apartment, with the exception of my cat.
And I know this is going to sound crazy, but I would swear to you that I heard someone whisper, “You have to forgive him,” in my ear.
And, more strangely, I knew immediately what the “whisper” meant.
Even though I’d stuffed it all down and tried not to focus on my anger for all of these months, it still stayed there, like a parasite, nibbling away at anything positive that came into my life.
So I picked up my notebook and started writing him a letter. I told him why I was so angry at him and what he did that hurt me so much. I told him why I thought he was wrong. I called him every name in the book and said cuss words that I invented for the occasion.
And at the end of the letter, I told him that I forgave him–not for him, but for myself. Because I deserved to live in peace, without the negativity of my past with him (or anyone else, for that matter) corroding my beautiful world.
When I finished the letter, I felt an amazing sense of peace come over me, almost immediately. And, while I’d fully intended to mail the letter (or at least an edited and polished version of it) to that man, I never did. It turned out that I didn’t need to.
Once I’d written down my feelings, owned them, and moved on–the healing began. Such a simple act allowed me to release months of pent up feelings that were holding me back. I was finally able to begin to feel GOOD again, and suddenly my life was back on the right track.
How about you?
Are you holding a grudge? Do you have some old anger lingering in your heart? If so, it’s time to begin to heal. We all know logically that we cannot change the past, so why live there?
Here’s my challenge for you today. If you are plagued by anger or holding a grudge that you just can’t shake, try writing a letter today to the source of your frustration. Say what you mean, and don’t censor yourself. Let it all out.
And then, offer your forgiveness.
Then, if you like, write a more “reader friendly” version of your letter and mail it to the person or people who have hurt you. But more likely, you might find that the simple act of getting it all out is enough, like I did.
The bottom line here is that if you are holding on to toxic anger, it’s only hurting YOU. The person or people you’re angry at are probably not aware of it–and if they are, it’s not affecting them nearly as significantly as it is you.
The best revenge, they say, is living well–so if you don’t want to let go of your anger just for your own sake, then let it go to be the bigger person.
I’ll leave you with a final quote from Catherine Ponder.
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”
What do you think? Do you have someone to forgive? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below!