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Help to Manage Conflict

When conflicts arise in a relationship, it is often difficult knowing exactly what to do.  Different personality types respond in vastly different ways. One person may freeze up and become distant, while their partner wants to clear the air immediately.  Most of us are just trying the best we can with the tools we have at our disposal.  Knowing that not everyone reacts to these stresses in the same manner, I'd like to discuss some helpful ways to deal with conflict when it comes up in your relationship.

The first thing to do (and sometimes the most difficult) is to get out of the details of what you were fighting about and discuss the process of what just happened during the conflict.  Try understanding your partner's perspective instead of defending yours.

Talk with your partner about how you were feeling when the situation came up and listen to your partner explain how they were feeling.  Remember to truly listen to your partner's perspective, you don't have to agree with it, but you need to understand what was happening for them that they were feeling that way.  

Once you have really listened to your partner,  it is important to validate your partner's feelings.  Instead of focusing on where your partner is wrong, focus on the pieces that make sense to you.  If you are at a place where you are feeling defensive and can't find any pieces that make sense, you need to take a step back. Listen. Ask questions to better understand them. This does not mean you are questioning what your partner is saying, you are asking questions to better understand them and what they are feeling.

Lastly, state what your role was in the conflict and take responsibility for it.  We all have difficult days.  Sometimes we don't always bring our best self to our relationship because we are focused on something else going on in our life.  Let your partner know by acknowledging it and taking responsibility for not being your best self.

We all make mistakes and say things we later regret.  Stopping the damaging process and acknowledging what happened will help to repair a damage before it becomes unmanageable. In addiction, this will for a more productive outcome for you and your partner!