Picture this, you are married to the love of your life and they do everything as you say or want with no arguments or conflicts. Wouldn’t life be perfect? Well, it would be perfect, but frankly speaking, a little boring too.
Without conflicts, there will be no drama in your life. Things will remain the same and you’ll see no relationship growth. Simply put, occasional conflicts are indicative of a healthy relationship because it allows you to learn more about your partner as they share their opinions and views which are at times different from yours. And when both partners courageously face and resolve conflicts successfully, they can develop a better understanding of each other, strengthen their relationship, and enhance their intimacy as they unfold one more layer of their partner’s personality and embrace it positively.
But this is easier said than done because some couples lack conflict management skills. They don’t know how to handle conflicts constructively and thus, end up participating in destructive behaviors — which include being downright nasty to each other. When both partners react without thinking and criticize actively during an argument it festers negativity and things go from bad to ugly, especially when arguments are not concluded or resolved amicably. Over time, the frequency of unresolved conflicts increases which leads to a great deal of disconnect, hostility, and discontent in the relationship. Therefore, if you and your partner want to have a happy and intimate relationship, then it is important that you learn how to deal with conflicts positively and in a constructive way.
Being experts in conflict management, the first thing that we advise couples is to start with what you have control over and that is ‘YOU’. That’s right; control your destructive behavior when in a conflict with your partner. This can make all the difference. In order to do this, you need to understand what these destructive patterns are. Based on our experience and profound knowledge, here is a list of the most common destructive behaviors that couples should avoid:
Name-calling is both offensive and insulting. Couples often demonstrate this behavior in an argument when they feel that they need to protect themselves. Name-calling includes words that are said with an intention to blame, attack, shame, condemn, reject, or ridicule the other partner. These can be words like a loser, controlling, jealous, narcissistic, inept, immature, childish, irrational, and selfish.
Likewise, character attacks can also be pretty damaging and hurtful in a fight between couples. Character attacks take name-calling to a whole another level where one partner suggests that the issue is with the other partner’s personality, family, beliefs, ethnicity, religion, etc. These attacks can open a whole new can of worms putting the person being attacked in a defensive mode, as they try to provide evidence that contradicts the statements passed by their partner.
Character attacks should be avoided not only because they hit below the belt, but also because they can take the focus off the main argument — where the couple starts debating back and forth about other futile issues.
Another destructive behavior that should be avoided in a conflict is criticism. Too much criticism and that too harshly put forward can be damaging to your relationship. In conflicts, couples don’t think before they speak so they pass severe judgments and highlight flaws of each other. When you see that your partner is not agreeing, you become critical and start to criticize them to put them down. Criticism usually starts off with statements like “you never” or “you always”. These statements give the perception that your partner is intrinsically flawed and has a character defect. Remember that nitpicking your partner’s various issues will not resolve the problem but will only aggravate it.
So, instead of being critical and judgmental, try to air your grievances to your partner without playing the blame game because that is what makes things worse.
Stonewalling is quite common among couples who fight like a ‘pursuer vs. runner’. Once an argument emerges between these two players, the pursuer follows the runner from room to room. They demand the rehash of the conflict. Moreover, they nitpick everything, demand long answers, and continue to push for their own position until it is accepted.
On the other hand, the runner is the person who stonewalls. Stonewalling is the act of shutting down the other partner. They do this by leaving the room during a fight, looking away, tuning the other person out, or simply walking out of the house. This makes the pursuer more adamant to prove their point of argument.
These fights never conclude and couples continue to argue every time the topic pops up. Therefore, instead of stonewalling, resolve the issue peacefully by telling your partner that you need some time to think over it. This will help you come back to the situation at hand in a calm and rational way.
Gestures like putting a hand up, waving a finger, doing a motion that says go away, hand yapping, eye-rolling, raising an eyebrow, turning back on your partner, looking uninterested and heavy sighs are acts of dismissive non-verbals. This kind of body language is used to put down, disrespect, or reject the other person in an argument. Sometimes these gestures can be more upsetting than a verbal attack.
Control tactics in an argument don’t help much. People who use these tactics try to manipulate and dominate the other person through different strategies. These strategies include interrupting the other person, talking over them, threatening, passing ultimatums, and putting demands forward.
What’s the Best Way to Manage Conflict?
One of the best ways to manage conflict is to contact us. We specialize in marriage counseling and couple coaching. Our experienced counselor can provide you with quality guidance and share some techniques and tools to help you and your partner resolve conflicts successfully. We will teach you how to address issues in a constructive and positive way and develop a culture of appreciation in your relationship. This will help you both respect each other’s views and be appreciative of your relationship. It will also help you avoid contemptuous behavior and negativity. We also offer couples retreats to nourish and nurture their bond and take their relationship to the next level. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today!