Nov 27

4/11 Prepare for the Storm for Conflict Solutions

We continue to provide answers in our blog on Conflict Solutions for better relationships.  We have talked about problem solving from a joint viewpoint.  We looked at Road Blocks and even ventured into thinking about learning how to listen to others.

Recently I found a very interesting book on facing Conflicts.  I have adapted part of this book into a list of 17 Suggestions to help face the inevitable conflicts you will find in your journey through life.

1.  Own your relationship with your partner.

Understand how powerfully you can influence your relationship by the attitudes you develop.  This means accepting responsibility for creating your own experience.

You choose the attitudes that you bring into the relationship.  You also choose how you act and re-act to your partner.  Choose not to be the martyr or a suffering victim.  By looking at yourself, you are focusing on something you can change, rather than on the unchangeable – your partner.

2.  How much do you want to change? 

What do you want to change?  Face the risk of trying to change.  Make a plan, work your plan and see the difference.  Think it through long enough to catch a sense of excitement at the possibility of change and growth that can happen with conflict.  Get a passion for how healthy conflict could be handled.

3.  Accept the risk that comes with being vulnerable.   

Risk and change go together, especially when trying to re-relate with a person who has previously caused you pain.  Create new self-talk such as: “If my partner hurts me again, when I open myself up to let myself care again, I will survive.”

Learn to share your emotions with a new realness.  True, you will be vulnerable, but “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.  Then, as it works, think of the benefits of a new, healthy, open relationship with your partner!  Don’t let fear paralyze your life and keep you from trying.

4.  Know your own ‘fight’ styles. 

How do you react when faced with conflict?  What does a conflict bring out in you?  Let conflict become a mirror to see your reactions, to deal with what is in your own heart.  Learn to cooperate with this process rather than fight the Lord.

5.  Guard against destructive emotional cycles. 

Model the openness and honesty you expect from those you live and work with.  Learn to see your relationship as a rare and precious thing, worth fighting for.  Eliminate passivity from being part of your conflict toolkit.

Become more pro-active in your relationship.  Begin by setting a higher standard for yourself first.  No more hostile put-downs, name calling or using destructive blackmail.  Work on your judgements.

6.  Look for hidden paybacks in your own behaviour. 

Guard against ‘rescuing’, of taking responsibility for what is not your problem.

7.  Determine to practice doing something different with every conflict situation. 

See conflict as a God-given opportunity to refine your chosen healthy new fight style.   Select one thing at a time you want to change and determine to practice change with each conflict!.  Conquer one step at a time.

Practice and you will find rewards in gaining momentum in intimacy, with every choice you make to change direction.  It’s not luck or random chance.  As you work through things, you will see that you are more in control of your life than you realised.

8.  Learn to accept your partner. 

 Since this is the number one need of everyone, many conflicts result just because one or the other is feeling rejected, criticized and judged.   Nourishing reconnection must come through acceptance.

Determine to set aside your frustrations, judgements, anger and/or disappointments and any critical perfectionism.  Learn to accept your partner – as he or she really is – warts and all.  Use your emotional energy and sharp focus to find things you admire about each other, what you appreciate in them.

9.  Build a focus on your friendship. 

This foundation seems to quickly disappear when conflict appears.  The most simple dignities and kindnesses tend to be over-shadowed by disagreement.  Remember, friends treat each other in positive and rewarding ways, with a spirit of giving rather than bitterness and anger.

10. Learn to handle your own emotions and logic Biblically. 

When is anger wrong?  Annoyances can build to resentments, which in turn can build to anger.  Deal with the roots of annoyance rather than just tackle the fruit of anger.  Learn to spot non-verbal clues that unhealthy conflict is growing.

11. Develop strategies to handle small gripes before they reach crisis

 Have “gripe and groan sessions” or a ‘annoyance trading session’.  Allow ventilation of emotions before destructive conflict results.

12. Learn to be aware of and to promote your partner’s self-esteem.  

Being protective of, and enhancing, their feelings of self, will go beyond acceptance and friendship.  This doesn’t mean taking false responsibility for their infirmities or issues.  We are all held accountable for what we do.  Learn to interact with your partner at a high standard that brings out the best in them.

13. Aim your frustrations in the right direction. 

Learn to vent frustrations in healthy ways, rather than stockpile them throughout the day – only to dump them later on your partner.  As you take that emotionally honest place in your own life, you can also stop making your partner the ‘enemy’.

14. Be up-front and open with issues. 

By failing to communicate your emotions and the issues relating to your present feeling state, you contribute insecurity to your partner.  Step aside from guessing games, mind reading, emotional blackmail or any other controlling methods.  Remember to state what you are really feeling and thinking, whether it is obvious or not.

Instead of the old “Nothing!” response to the question “Honey, what’s wrong?” state the obvious, even if it is “I’m angry and don’t want to talk right now.”  Give your feelings an appropriate voice and explain clearly and honestly what is going on.

15.  Learn to ask for the change you want, rather than just hint or use sarcastic remarks.

When we feel helpless or unable to bring change in a relationship, it is too easy to flip into sarcasm or giving hints.  Learn to come with solutions to the issue.  Learn to ask for the change that you want from the person you are with.  Most of the time you’ll find a positive response.

16.  Try making exchanges.

When you come to making suggestions for the changes you want, try this.  “Honey, what is one thing I that do that frustrates you … that you are willilng to trade for something that frustrates me?” 

 I tried this with my husband and yes, he did have a few things that bothered him.  I learned something new about how he saw things.  So we traded – “Would you please make sure to lock the back door when you’re the last one inside.  That really bothers me when I find the door unlocked.”

So, I acknowledged his complaint and exchanged my frustration.  “Would you please make sure the closet door is shut so I don’t keep running into it in the middle of the night?”  We traded …. Problem solved for both of us.

18. Make yourself happy rather than right. 

Reframe your point of view.  The real quality of a good relationship is not the rights and wrongs of life – but whether the relationship is working or not.  It’s not about making yourself superior, but negotiating workable solutions for living together.  Relationship quality is also not about being a meek lamb, but finding an empathetic approach for mutual growth.

19. Allow your relationship to rise above turmoil.  

Determine now to use fights and conflicts to improve the relationship – not destroy itEliminate any “If you do this one more time, I’m out of here!” attitude.  Avoid all threats as a lever to manipulate your partner to do what you want!  Give yourself permission to disagree and yet stay with the dispute until some win-win solution is reached.  Keep any lists of annoyances short.

20. Create meaningful accountability for your actions or inactions. 

Find what works for you.  Learn healthy self-management skills.  Set priorities.  How important is for you to learn new skills to resolve the conflicts you face?  ‘Lone Rangers’ get caught in inertia and most often, end up self-driven and self- righteous.  Ask for help and commitment from those you trust.

Remember Conflict is managed not cured!

(Adapted from Relationship Rescue, Chapter five.)

 In summary:  Aim to make the commitment to take charge of your own relationship, take risks, accept your partner for who he/she is and be your partner’s friend.

Susanne Fengler. Blog Author

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