Saturday, April 22, 2006

Resolving Conflicts In Relationships

There will always be differences of opinions between people in relationships. Many people wind up breaking up because of this. The key to resolving conflicts in marriage as well as other personal relationships boils down to both parties honestly wanting to resolve the conflict and not just “get their own way”.

Here is a process that has worked for many couples to resolve conflicts and grow closer because of it.

Step 1. Recognize that there is a conflict and that resolving it together will make your relationship better.
Step 2. Listen carefully as each of you explains what the problem is from their point of view. You are not trying to solve the problem at this step, just define it clearly so you each understand what you are dealing with.
Step 3. Select a time when you will get back together to try to resolve the problem. Since you both have a clear picture of what the problem is, give yourself a few hours or days to just think about it. Choose a time that will work for both of you. At the specified time, get back together to work on the problem. The purpose of putting it off was so both of you could think about it, not just “put it off” so you don’t have to deal with it.
Step 4. Examine your role in the problem. Define it so you understand what you think the problem is. Which of your behaviors adds to the problem? Which of your partner’s behaviors adds to the problem?
Step 5. When you get back together, share what you figured out in Step 4. Accept responsibility for your role in producing or keeping the problem going.
Step 6. Identify behaviors that each of you can change. Think of as many different solutions as you can. The more possible solutions and behavior changes you can think of, the greater the chance of finding those that will solve the problem.
Step 7. You may have to negotiate a possible solution if one of you likes choice 5 while the other likes choice 3. Keep the discussion open and going until you both agree on which solution to try. This solution should include behavior changes that each of you should make and a potential timetable for making them. Set a date to discuss how well this solution is working.
Step 8. Implement your new behaviors.
Step 9. Meet again to discuss what has worked and what hasn’t. For those things that haven’t worked, go back to your list of possible solutions (Step 6) and pick new behaviors to try.
Step 10. Resolve to keep meeting and trying new behaviors until the problem is solved.

Use this technique for resolving any relationship problem you have. It will work as long as each party is willing to accept responsibility for their own part and are willing to try new behaviors until the successful changes are found.