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How to Resolve Conflict in Relationships

Even the very best relationships have conflict. But one of the primary differences between healthy, happy relationships and unhappy, unhealthy ones is the ability to effectively resolve conflicts whenever they occur.

Unresolved conflict can eat away at a relationship just like a few cancer cells can grow into a life-threatening tumor. Just as cancer can kill a person, festering or frequent conflict can kill a relationship.

If you and your partner have been fighting a lot, and conflict is tearing apart your relationship, then keep reading... there is hope!

Key elements in effectively resolving conflicts in your relationship:

First, stay calm. No matter how angry or hurtful your partner is, you must remain calm. Easier said than done, but if you react or escalate to your partner's level, it will only make things worse.

By staying calm and keeping your wits about you, your partner is more likely to calm down as well in time.

Listen. Really listen. If your partner is ranting or screaming or venting, just listen. Most people who are angry really just want to be heard. They will eventually get tired of talking or reach a point where they have said what they needed to say.

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By truly listening you are also showing respect and courtesy. Often, in a conflict, both parties are just impatiently waiting to get a word in edgewise or react to the other person. But that is not listening. And it's not constructive.

Don't interrupt or talk over the other person. When you interrupt or talk over the other person, you will often just make him / her angrier.

Interrupting or talking over people essentially indicates that you feel what you have to say is more important than what they have to say. It is disrespectful.

Letting them speak and finish gives the powerful message: "I value your opinion and care about you enough to hear what you have to say." Isn't that what you want from them? You are more likely to get it in return by giving it first.

Don't dig up the past. One of the biggest mistakes couples make is bringing up old hurts. Keeping score destroys relationships. While you may not forget those hurts, dredging them up will accomplish nothing but make your partner more angry and defensive.

Don't try to tackle a serious conflict when either of you is tired, hungry, stressed, or rushed. It will almost always backfire.

Instead, choose a time to talk when both of you have sufficient time and energy.

Work on conflicts in private. Trying to discuss a problem when others are present or within earshot makes everyone uncomfortable.

It may also make your partner feel that you have a hidden agenda, such as trying to put him / her on the spot, embarrass him, or drag others into the conflict.

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Always look for the truth in what your partner says. It is very rare that only one person is "wrong" or "the problem" when there is a conflict.

For example, if your partner states, "You never listen to anything I say", rather than getting defensive, consider that there may be times when you haven't really listened, or you were preoccupied.

You might calmly respond with, "You are right - there are times when I have been a poor listener and that wasn't fair to you. I'm listening now, and I really want to hear your thoughts and feelings." (And then be SURE to let your partner keep talking!)

It takes two to tango and you both need to take ownership of your part in the conflict.

Don't resort to "dirty" or juvenile fighting. This includes things such as name calling, making threats, abuse of any kind, or getting friends or families to take sides. These tactics are destructive. Always.

Let go of the need to be right. People who always have to be right don't have healthy relationships. If you truly value your relationship, focus on being understanding and kind rather than right.

Ideally, both you and your partner will try to follow these guidelines. But even if you are the only one who does, it will give you and your partner a much better chance at resolving the conflicts in your relationship.

It takes only one of you to change the course for both of you!

Do you and your partner need help with conflict resolution? If you could do with a few extra communication skills up your sleeve, I recommend that you take a look at:

relationship recovery

http://savingthelove.com/RelationshipRecovery.html