Although you may truly love your mate, conflict in relationships is inevitable. So when conflict comes, make sure you are prepared to handle conflict it in a mature and productive way. Conflict can be a doorway toward deeper understanding and a more satisfying relationship. Unfortunately, many couples waste this window of possibility and end up sinking deeper in distance between each other rather than climbing higher in understanding. The tools that you use will make the difference during conflict. Some unfair, off-limit tools include: Bringing up the past, Name-calling, Withholding Sex or affection, Tuning your partner out or giving the cold shoulder, Slandering family members, Leveraging children, and Comparisons to other people. All of these tools only prolong the healing process and dig deeper holes into which each couple tends to stumble. More positive, helpful and effective tools include Honesty, Kindness, Love, Understanding, Prayer, Goal-setting Respect, Ownership of feelings, and Movement toward a mutually-agreeable resolution.
In his book, Making Love Last Forever, relationship expert Gary Smalley lists his “Smalley Fighting Rules”. These include simple, practical items to help develop your relationship and reduce your disconnection time. The 14 rules are: 1. Clarify what the actual conflict is. Sometimes couples are arguing about two different things and no wonder they cannot seem to come to a resolution. 2. Stick to the issue at hand. When extraneous topics are dragged into the discussion the progress gets bogged down by the excess baggage. 3. Maintain as much tender physical contact as possible. It is difficult to be angry and hostile with the one you love when you are tenderly touching him or her. 4. Avoid sarcasm. Sarcasm bites and stings because many of the comments present a sense of sincerity but in reality its all about the sneaked in slap in the face. 5. Avoid “you” statements. “You” statements have a connotation of blame. Instead, try using statements beginning with “I am feeling” which shifts the focus toward an interior source rather than an exterior source. 6. Don’t use “hysterical” statements or exaggerations. When upset, it is easy to escalate the exchange through hyper-extending the facts because of the stressed out feelings caused by hurt, fear or frustration. 7. Resolve any hurt feelings before continuing the conflict discussion. Hurt feelings have a tendency to resurface in the future if not completely resolved. In order to avoid unexpected blowups in the future, don’t bury any live grenades. 8. Don’t resort to name calling. People remember what you say, so tame your tongue son you won’t have to keep apologizing for what you did not intend to say. 9. Avoid power statements and actions. Don’t try to be grand just to make a point or an impact. 10. Don’t use the silent treatment. Enough said. 11. Keep your arguments as private as possible. Your relatives don’t need to know all your business. 12. Use the “drive-through” method of communication. Just listen as your partner makes requests. 13. Resolve your conflicts with win-win solutions. You and your mate are on the same team. 14. Strive to reflect honor in all your words and actions. When you show honor, you show love.