Partnerships are nearly impossible to survive without any conflicts, precisely because two different individuals with different sets of background and beliefs are bound to have varying opinions over matters concerning their daily lives as a couple. A husband-and-wife partnership is no different. Conflicts will arise and it’s important to accept that as a fact. Don’t think that you’re on the verge of a break-up just because you don’t agree on an issue. The key is to find a common ground on which you can both compromise.
1. Agree on some rules of engagement. This means that no matter how angry you both are, these are boundaries you should not cross, e.g., no calling of names, no walking out on each other, no cursing, and no sarcasm. Once these are set, it will be easier to focus on the issue at hand.
2. Listen ... not only with your ears, but also consider body language and facial expressions. Not everyone is gifted with the skill of verbalizing their feelings, so it helps to know your partner well to determine what else is not being said. Do not assume, though that you know everything. If in doubt, clarify.
3. Talk. Sparingly. Your partner needs to hear your side, too, but you need to know the difference between explaining and insisting.
4. Be open to resolutions. Rather than imposing, ask your partner, “How do you suggest we solve this?” Your soliciting attitude will break down his defenses and open communication lines, allowing you both to work on a real solution.
5. Call for a timeout. If all else fails and things get too heated, call for a truce. Anger can compound a problem severely and won’t get the discussion anywhere. What you want is to get to the root of the problem, not find someone to blame. Have a moment to reflect on the real issue, what triggered the spat, and if it’s even worth fighting over. Oftentimes, you’ll be surprised, it’s not.
Photo courtesy of Gato Negro Films (Elektra Luxx)