There are five major ways to resolve conflict, and three of them can really hurt your marriage. Let’s take a look at them all and learn how to best resolve conflict in a way that promotes healthy communication and a healthy marriage. Starting from worst to best, here’s what each one says about you:
Avoiding discussion about tension in your marriage only creates distance in the relationship. It indicates a low regard for your needs and a low regard for your partner’s needs. In this case, neither party wins, and both parties lose. However, there may be times when delaying a conversation is needed. For example, when in public, or when needing time to cool down. But don’t confuse delay for avoidance.
This is the “My way or the highway!” approach. It indicates a high regard for your needs, and a low regard for your partner’s needs. Unless you absolutely know your spouse’s suggestion will be detrimental, or you need to stand up for your rights, be careful with this method. With this style, 1 person is a winner, the other is the loser. Using anger to steamroll your way through a conversation is likely to cause it to escalate, leaving your partner feeling unheard and unloved. Marriage is not a competition, and neither should be your resolution style.
Accommodating can be helpful when the issue is not as important to you as it is to the other person. However, sometimes accommodating your partner can be a form of avoiding expressing your concerns because you want to protect the relationship by downplaying conflict. It indicates that you have a higher regard for your partner’s needs than your own. Repeated use of accommodation can lead to resentment towards your partner.
Here is where the regard for both parties becomes recognized as important. With compromise, both parties win, but may have to lose a little in order to do so. It indicates a mid-level regard for your own needs and your partner’s. It shows concern for each other, demonstrates respect, and is more likely than the previous three styles to promote closeness in the relationship.
This is the ultimate level of conflict resolution with respect to caring about each other’s needs. Collaboration indicates a high regard for your partner’s needs as well as your own, which promotes co-ownership of the problem, and leads to closeness in the relationship. Both parties win, and neither party has to lose in order to do so.
Overall, how you view your needs compared to your partner’s needs will impact the way you communicate, which is fundamental to a healthy marriage. Our experienced marriage counselors can help guide you towards better communication, and a better marriage. Call 1-800-693-1916 to schedule your first appointment today.