Let's be clear, conflict in relationships is unavoidable. It tends to happen and is part of being a human being, in any relationship. Therefore, this blog isn't about avoiding conflict, but what you can do differently when conflict arises. This will help you diminish hurt, misunderstanding and other unpleasant experiences.
Most conflicts happen because couples don't know what to do when there is a difference in wishes, opinions, dreams, values and attitudes. During your lives together, you are constantly challenged by the differences in your needs and interests. So, how can you happily live together and enjoy your lives as a couple?
There two ways you'll probably deal with conflict in your relationship:
1) Either one of you surrenders your needs and goes along with the other.
2) You both argue about whose wish will take priority, whose desire is more important, more valid, more urgent, or makes more sense (to the person who has that desire, of course!).
When you argue, you are most likely not feeling listened to, not understood, not valued and not accepted by your significant other. That hurts, for sure.
The argument, in general, is about whose need is going to prevail, in favour of the best decision that could be made. It becomes about winning. It becomes emotional.
However, in order to win, somebody has to lose. And when one of us loses, isn't it true that we both lose as a result? Our relationship will suffer because one of us will feel dissatisfied, and then we may begin to feel disconnected and disappointed with each other, ultimately ending up feeling hurt.
Dealing with relationship conflict shouldn't always be like that. If you understand the needs, interests, desires, and wishes for both of you are equally valid, allowed to be expressed and equally important to both of you, then your conversation can take different direction. Here's how:
1) You can try to respect the wishes of each other. Then then take time to speak honestly about what you both want, and really listen to each other.
2) Now take a step back together, to see what is possible. Is there any possibility that both of your needs will be included? How can you support each other in having both your needs realized?
3) Try to work together, finding the best possible solution for you both. It may turn out that both your desires can be satisfied perfectly! BUT, you can try your best to take care of the dreams of both of you.
4) Remember, in the end, it's the relationship that matters most!
Here's a simple, and practical way of finding a common solution:
1) Draw two circles on a sheet of paper.
2) Each of you write in your own circle what you want, perhaps with some basic details.
3) Now take a step back together and look at what you both wrote to find out what's possible.
This whole process can be both creative and fun!
Now you can allow your differences to be present, treat them with respect, and show some flexibility and acceptance.
The process of finding compromise may just become more valuable than the solution itself!
Best of luck!
Wishing all partners happy sharing and connecting with each other,
Svetlana Vasilyeva, MC, RCC.
Sveltana is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Relationship Specialist at Vida Relationships who is accepting new clients for couples and individual counselling in Vancouver, BC. Contact her here to book and appointment.