This guest article from YourTango was written by Dr. Karen Sherman.
In an article on Time.com, divorced couples offer lessons about what it takes to sustain a solid marriage. Relationships are tough; they require a whole lot more than love to make them succeed.
The divorced couples in the article suggest learning how to manage conflict, which is important because a leading researcher showed that with 85 percent accuracy, he could predict within 15 minutes which couples would divorce, simply by watching how they handled conflicts.
Fortunately, you can learn from these divorcées’ mistakes and learn to manage conflict in your relationship or marriage. Here’s how.
Think about it. You took the time to learn the skills of whatever career you’re in, so you can also learn the tools to manage conflict in your marriage. And since you can’t make change without awareness, start by being aware of this important fact: Not only is it normal to have conflicts in a relationship, in fact, having conflicts is a good thing; it means you feel safe with each other.
When couples tell me they never fight, it’s a red flag. So, don’t be alarmed if you and your significant other disagree from time to time. What matters is how you manage it. With that in mind, here are five rules for successful conflict management:
1. Don’t attack.
When you want to bring something to your partner’s attention, discuss it from your point of view. If you blame it on your mate, he is going to either shut down or shout back.
2. No name calling.
Name-calling is a form of attacking. You might not even realize there are indirect ways of name-calling. For example, accusing your mate of being lazy or sloppy is very harmful.
3. Don’t shut down.
Some men shut down as a way of being self-protective. Other men find it easier to say nothing than to risk saying the wrong thing. But silence isn’t golden. Even saying “I don’t know what to say” helps your mate know you’re emotionally present and involved.
4. Stick to the subject.
Whatever you are discussing is what you should focus on. Don’t bring up other concerns that will derail what’s going on and make it hard to resolve the conflict at hand.
5. Don’t generalize.
Again, stick to the particular situation being discussed. Shy away from words like, “always” and “never.” In reality, very few situations fit into those categories. When you use those words, you detract from your point.
Are there more tools for successful conflict management? Sure! Starting with these five, however, will be a great beginning. Additionally, there are also tools that can help you repair from your conflicts after they’ve occurred so you get back on track in a loving way. There are even things you can learn so that you’ve got a better way to deal with your emotions.
Knowing how important all of this is to a good relationship, I created a program that goes through all of this you might want to check out. You can find out more at my site.
Different therapists have a variety of skills to offer. One skill that there would be no conflict on, however, is the importance of managing your conflicts to have a solid, loving relationship. Now you can!
More relationship advice from YourTango:
- Hard Work Ahead: Are Relationships Really Worthwhile? [VIDEO]
- Why Your Relationships Only Last 3 Months [VIDEO]
- How To Make Long-Distance Love Work
Chess knights photo available from Shutterstock
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Jul 2014
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Experts, Y. (2013). Fighting Fair With Your Partner: 5 Rules to Follow. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/02/21/fighting-fair-with-your-partner-5-rules-to-follow/