Arguments are a normal part of being in a relationship. Two people with different life experiences, beliefs and expectations are trying to merge their lives while continuing to have their own needs met.
When conflict arrises, have a go at using the following 5 steps.
- Address the problem – trying to ignore or think it’s not important will not make it go away, and usually makes it grow. Speak up and identify the problem, so it will start the process of moving forwards.
- Understand the ‘Illusion of Sameness”. At times we feel we know our partner so well “We are soul mates”, “He really gets me”, “We are so similar”. The Illusion of Sameness leads us to make one of the biggest mistakes in our relationship – to assume our partners experience of something is the same as ours and that the events and behaviours mean the same to them as they do to us. We have certain expectations of how we think they should act, and when they don’t we blame them or get angry. Reminding yourself of this Illusion can help you to remember your partner is their own unique person.
- When challenging moments occur, remember that both parties are trying to meet their needs. You might not yet understand what that means for your partner. Neither of you are right or wrong. You are both acting in the only way you know how at this exact moment. It’s up to you both to listen, communicate clearly and find a way to make it work.
- Speak with kindness and listen. Using catastrophizing words like ‘why are you always’ or ‘You never..” make the problem bigger than it is.
- Use the talking frame “When you……I feel like…..”. This allows your partner to hear what you feel the problem is and how it is impacting you. You are not attacking them, simply saying how you are affected by what they are doing.
Continue to increase your own self-awareness searching to find out your triggers, finding strategies to regulate your emotions and thinking about how you can act differently (rather than put blame on your partner).