Let’s face it- we sometimes go looking for an argument with our partner. We nag, or look for things to fight about, and end up turning a small issue into a raging problem. Our personalities can be such that we heighten or escalate small conflicts into larger ones, creating a whirlwind of problems into a tornado without even trying.
Some personalities are strong willed, stubborn, and don’t like to admit they are wrong or imperfect. While this might make you excellent at your job, it isn’t always helpful in a relationship. Cultivating vulnerability, trust, and honesty means putting aside the need to be right all the time.
Conflict resolution is something we can all be better at. Both people in the conflict have to be open to learning and growing through that experience or else it will never work. By setting down your weapons and meeting in the middle, you can both learn about yourselves and each other in order to strengthen the relationship.
During a conflict, it can be difficult to remember that you have control over the situation. Our autopilot fight reaction turns on, and it seems like we turn into a different person. This physiological fight response makes it difficult for us to think about what we are saying and react to it in favourable ways.
When you are in a fight, there are a few things you can remember to do in order to not escalate the situation. Here are a few ways to not make the conflict bigger than it needs to be:
- Disengage from a fight. Don’t ignore the fact that a conversation needs to happen but realize that you don’t have to jump right into an argument. When you or your partner brings up something contentious, take a moment to cool off and think about why that topic or words set you off. You’ll start to notice your reaction to their words or actions as well as their own. You can ask yourself why you feel the need to argue, why you need to win, and why it matters.
- Approach your partner with grace, love, and understanding. We are all flawed, and we can get to know our flaws in ways that show we are working on them. Imperfection isn’t something we can change overnight but making a conscious effort can make a big impression on your relationship. When both partners are open to learning despite these argumentative tendencies, you can grow together.
- Resolve your own problems. You and your partner will argue, but it doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t working. If you find that your partner isn’t willing to work with you in order to resolve conflicts, focus on yourself. Focus on your response to conflict, your ability to effectively resolve conflict, and your desire to be better.