Conflict is part of every marriage. Even in the most ideal marriage, periods of discord are inevitable. The most important thing about marital conflicts is not how to avoid them, but how to manage them.
Couples are encouraged to learn and practice conflict resolution skills. At first it may seem awkward and unnatural, but once the couple becomes efficient at it, they often find the process rewarding.
10 Steps to Resolve Conflicts
1. Set a time and place for discussion
– Schedule a time suitable for both of you.
– Arrange a place that both of you will feel comfortable and will not be interrupted
2. Notice the symptoms
– Look out for signals that “something is wrong” ~ Is there tension between you? Are you distancing from each other? Is one of you feeling hurt or more irritable than the usual? If so, there is probably a conflict that needs to be resolved.
3. Clarify the problem or issue of disagreement
– Select and discuss only one issue at a time. Trying to resolve more than one conflict at a time can be overwhelming and will create feelings of frustration.
4. Acknowledge your role in having created and maintained the problem.
– Accept responsibility for your own contribution to the conflict. This helps to decrease defensiveness. Problems between two people usually involve both partners in some way.
5. List past attempts that failed to resolve the issue.
– This will allow you to realize that you have made efforts to resolve the conflict in the past, and to avoid potential solutions that have proven unsuccessful.
6. Brainstorm possible solutions
– Use your creativity to come up with as many solutions as possible without being either judgmental or critical.
7. Discuss the pros and cons of proposed solutions
– For each proposed solution, list the appropriateness, your ability to implement it as well as the constraints.
– Discuss all the solutions, even though some may seem to be better than others.
8. Agree on one solution to try out
– Between both of you, arrive at a consensus as to which solution will work the best.
– Remember that the solution agreed upon is not always the first choice of either partner. Compromise is crucial to arrive at a workable solution.
– Both partners need to identify specifically what each of them will do in carrying out the solution.
– Be specific and focus on observable behaviors. For example, “I will give you a call when I can’t be home early.
9. Evaluate progress and feasibility of solution adopted
– The next meeting should be reasonably soon (e.g. one week later). Use the meeting to discuss how successful the solution is. Ask yourself questions like “Is it working?”. If it is not working, go back to clarify the issue or brainstorm solutions.
10. Celebrate and reward each other for the efforts put in to resolve the issue
– Share your observation of how your partner has positively contributed to resolving the conflict.
– Praise your partner for his/her effort.