Conflict has a way of spiraling, and that spiral can continue to get worse until the damage can become irrevocable. The results of unresolved conflict can have negative effects on those around you, especially children. Marriages that work tend to practice positive conflict resolution skills – which moves things forward instead of pulling them back or causing the relationship to stagnate. Here are 5 STEPS to practice:
- State the problem clearly – Don’t fight about fuzzy things, be specific about what the conflict is over. Muddying the water with lots of issues is not at all productive, and is only destructive.
- Talk through possible solutions – Keeping the conflict solution based will ensure that you’re actually moving towards a resolution instead of just going around in circles. Each person should offer up possible solutions.
- Exercise self-control – This can be challenging, especially when emotions are high. You will be tempted to pursue things that aren’t part of the current issue. And perhaps tempted to say things that aren’t helping but that feel good in the moment. For the sake of your relationship, take a time out if necessary and practice self control.
- Pick a solution to try – Choose one solution to try. Anything, it doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to absolutely please everyone. Just agreeing to decide on one course of action can help move you closure together and reduce some emotional stress.
- See how it works – Be open to a solution actually working. Don’t stay trapped in the current situation through sabotage or by having a negative attitude. Even if it wasn’t your idea or the idea that you thought was best, give it a chance and if it doesn’t work, try something else.
Following these STEPS can be easy at times, but it can also be difficult. Sometimes an impartial third party with professional experience can help couples manage emotions and improve communication . If you are finding it challenging to manage conflicts, couples therapy can help. Don’t wait or let frustrations pile up. Learn the skills you need to help restore peace.
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