Dealing with inevitable conflict

March 2, 2012 at 11:52 am Leave a comment

Ah those little moments of conflict. I’m not talking about anything major, but just some of those small things that can sometimes get blown up if one of us (fine, usually me) is in the wrong mood, i.e. tired or hungry.

As I said before, surely disagreements are normal and healthy, but I think it’s important to, well, “fight right”. What does this mean?

Well I think the first thing is to check myself. Do I really care about this or am I hungry? I have actually come a LONG way in checking my needs (hungry tired cold) before even expressing irritation, and I’ve learned to make sure to avoid those things when possible in the first place. But I’m not perfect, so I do need to continue to do a better job of consciously checking myself before I get upset.

OK, but then what if I really don’t like something, or M gets upset with me? What would it mean to fight right?

Luckily, Gretchen Rubin at the original Happiness Project has several blog posts that lay out exactly what I was trying to articulate.

First there are 15 tips (divided into two posts – five in the first, and ten in the other) for how to fight right. Definitely check out those posts, but here are a few that spoke to me personally:

5. Make “repair attempts.” During a fight, make gestures to keep things from getting too ugly. Laugh; throw in a comment like, “I know what you’re talking about,” “I see what you mean,” or “I’m trying to do better,”; admit where you’re wrong, and most important – I have to remind myself of this often – let the fight end. Let it go. Have the discussion, then change the subject.

In a later post, about phrases you can use while fighting right, Rubin cautions to never rebuff a repair attempt if made by your partner. I am SO guilty of this. I am stubborn and proud, and I like to hear an apology, not a repair attempt. The trouble is a lot of the stuff I get upset about can’t really be apologized for – it’s little things that don’t even mater. So this is definitely something I will work on.

I also like:

2. Avoid harsh start-ups. As the first three minutes go, so goes the entire conversation. Stay calm and warm.

6. View anger as a misdirected plea for love. Your partner is upset because he or she feels that something you said or did showed a lack of love. Viewing the problem through this lens can help you feeling more loving.

9. Watch your body language. Crossing your arms or sneering isn’t helpful. Studies show that it helps to hold each other’s hands while having a difficult conversation. Or if holding hands seems a little precious during a fight, just touch the other person, sit right next to him or her, etc.

Finally, if you have kids, you might want to read this article, for fighting right in front of your kids.

All of these resources will be useful, and I want to revisit them daily to make sure I am putting them into practice. I think they will ultimately help me – us – realize that the disagreements we’re having don’t really matter in the long run.


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Entry filed under: Relationship. Tags: , , , , , .

March 1: Kicking off a month devoted to looooooooooooooove Making the most of our time together each day

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