CALMING CON­FLICT

YOU CAN’T RUN FROM IT – AT SOME STAGE YOU AND YOUR PART­NER WILL DIS­AGREE. HERE’S HOW TO DEAL WITH THE TUR­MOIL

Life & Style Weekend - - BEST OF RELATIONSH­IPS - WORDS: JOANNE WILSON Joanne is a neu­ropsy­chother­a­pist and re­la­tion­ship spe­cial­ist of The Con­fi­dante Coun­selling. Con­tact Jo at www.the­con­fi­dan­te­coun­selling.com

You’ve fallen hook, line and sinker if you’ve bought into the be­lief you can cruise through a re­la­tion­ship with­out a dis­agree­ment.

In fact, there is plenty of ev­i­dence that much of our con­flict is caused by per­son­al­ity dif­fer­ences and val­ues that are un­solv­able. They’re in­evitable!

It’s not un­com­mon for cou­ples I work with to openly ad­mit they avoid con­flict at all costs.

Un­for­tu­nately, it can be­come in­creas­ingly icy be­low the sur­face, re­sent­ment sets in and the ice­berg can grow too large for the ship to nav­i­gate around.

When sup­port­ing cou­ples, it’s im­por­tant for me to help them un­der­stand fac­tors such as their key un­der­ly­ing emo­tions and trig­gers during con­flict, how­ever, here are some thoughts you can con­sider first:

Re­alise what it is you’re ar­gu­ing about

It’s a value dif­fer­ence. It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about two peo­ple who have two dif­fer­ent thoughts and opin­ions.

It doesn’t mean you don’t love the other per­son and usu­ally, no one has ma­li­cious in­tent. You’re a hu­man be­ing try­ing to get along with an­other hu­man be­ing. It’s quite ok not to agree 100 per cent of the time.

Work out how im­por­tant it re­ally is to each of you

Rank on a 1–10 scale for re­al­is­ti­cally of “How much this means to me?”

For one of you, what lug­gage to buy for your trip might be very im­por­tant.

For the other, it might be fairly ir­rel­e­vant and more about crit­i­cism, fi­nan­cial val­ues or seek­ing to be heard.

Find out why it’s that im­por­tant

If some­one lists their choice to cruise around the Mediter­ranean ver­sus fish­ing in Dar­win as any­thing over a two or a three, there’s prob­a­bly a rea­son. Lis­ten to that rea­son.

Show em­pa­thy to your part­ner as well as ac­tively lis­ten­ing. Avoid “cor­rect­ing” their rea­son­ing.

And it goes the other way as well. If the is­sue’s not im­por­tant to one of you and you’re just happy to be to­gether but they keep ar­gu­ing it, find out why. What’s this re­ally about?

Recog­nise you’ve been trig­gered

Own the re­al­ity that you might not know why it is so im­por­tant – but it is!

Be present with your­self, take a deep breath and check-in with your ego that might be hun­gry for a feed?

Keep it fo­cused

Don’t bring other is­sues or ar­gu­ments into your cur­rent con­ver­sa­tion. That goes for any dis­agree­ment, ever.

If you find that you can’t ad­dress how long you should travel for with­out men­tion­ing what hap­pened last week, guess what? That’s likely an is­sue you need to be ad­dress­ing next.

Work as a team to find a so­lu­tion

Some­times there might need to be more of a re­spect­ful com­pro­mise.

Maybe the per­son who’s su­per in­vested in the hol­i­day can be the re­searcher, and the other per­son will take con­trol of the fi­nan­cial as­pect.

What­ever the so­lu­tion, work to­gether and show kind­ness the same as you would your neigh­bour or friend.

Every­day value dif­fer­ences are one of the most com­mon prob­lems cou­ples face, and in the long run, they can kind of be dam­ag­ing.

Bot­tling up your emo­tions is a fast way to an even worse prob­lem, so it’s im­por­tant to get it out in the open and deal with the is­sue like adults.

Whether it’s hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions, par­ent­ing, dish wash­ing or even food de­ci­sions, don’t let small value items turn into big value prob­lems.

Most of all, be timely with your com­mu­ni­cat­ing your griev­ances.

Don’t forget that re­spect and kind­ness is the foun­da­tion of your flour­ish­ing re­la­tion­ship. En­joy the ride.

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