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Tips On How To Solve A Conflict

Updated on March 27, 2016

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10 Ways to Have a More Productive Argument with a Spouse or Significant Other.

  1. Be honest.- And be honest about everything. Be honest about what you are feeling, why you are feeling it, and what you want from the other person. Always know what you are willing to do to help solve the problem. Knowing your own boundaries is very important in compromising.
  2. Acknowledge your own role in the problem.- It is important to take ownership of any responsibility you have in an issue. Often times, partners will blame each other in a cyclical argument and nothing is solved. Usually, starting the conversation off by acknowledging problems include two or more parties opens the air for a discussion and not a "fight".
  3. Do you need to forgive this person, or are you holding a grudge?- Bringing old arguments into new arguments is never a good idea. If you are only upset because you are holding a grudge, it is time to figure out why and move on. Holding onto old issues only compounds the new ones and resentment starts to grow. Arguments cannot be solved appropriately if partners are holding grudges.
  4. What is the real issue in the conflict?- Are you really angry that your husband forgot your birthday, or are you feeling lonely in general? Sometimes we don't even know why we're mad or hurt. Little events set off a mountain of problems that haven't been properly dealt with. The key is to sit down and think clearly about what and why you are feeling the way you are so that when you convey it to your spouse they can understand better.
  5. Use "I" statements.- Replace every "Why were you late?" and "You never do the dishes!" statements with more positive statements like "I was worried because you were late." and "I feel exhausted and could really use your help cleaning the dishes after dinner". I statements help turn what seem like attacks into easy to understand messages without double meanings. They give clarity. Plus, no one can argue with you about how you feel. You own your emotions and are stating them clearly for the other person so they don't have to guess.
  6. Accept change.- With resolution comes change. Hopefully both partners will see these changes as positive changes. A once passive husband may be more willing to talk about his feelings and a wife may become more willing to compromise.
  7. Consult your church, other spiritual leader, or religious doctrine.- Some couples are very spiritually driven. It often clears their minds and gives clarity when they read scripture or talk to a church member/leader before embarking on finding a solution to a problem. Religious doctrine can also be a guide to a solution or compromise.
  8. PRACTICE!- You probably won't "get it right" the first time, but each time you practice these guidelines you will develop your skills further. My husband and I keep a short list on our bedroom wall and fridge as a sort of cheat sheet. Sometimes it gets ripped or thrown on the floor, but we try to incorporate as many skills as and as many times as possible when we are having an argument. Don't give up- you will notice a change in the quality of your discussions the more you try to practice them.
  9. Do it in front of the kids.- This may seem counter-intuitive but it's good practice. Once you get the hang of constructive conflict management, modeling this behavior in front of your kids will teach them the same skills, without them having to read this article!
  10. End the conflict.- This ties in with most of what we've already discussed. The conflict must end, be solved, or a plan must be in place to try another solution at a later time. Otherwise, grudges can be formed and no one wins. Without some kind of closure each party may feel confused and more bitter than when the argument began.


Sometimes A Little Humor Goes A Long Way

Monty Python's Argument Clinic Sketch

Examples of "I Statements"

Type
Common Statement
I Statement
Blaming
"You make me so mad." "You make me crazy!"
"I feel angry when you don't pick up your phone because I think you don't want to talk to me."
Judging/Labeling
"You are an inconsiderate, arrogant creep." "You're being a dick/brat."
"I feel uneasy when you make decisions without me because it seems like we're not a team anymore."
Accusing
"You don't give a damn about me!" "You couldn't care less."
"I feel insecure when you walk away during a fight because I want to work things out."
Ordering
"You shut up!" "Go away."
"I feel mad when you raise your voice because it is out of character for you."
Questioning
"Are you always this flirtatious?" "Why did you like her post?"
"I feel worried when you like her status because I know she is into you."
Arguing
"You don't know what you are talking about." "You're lying."
"I feel annoyed when you use someone else's words because I want to know what you really think."
Sarcasm
"Of course, you are an expert!" "Yeah, way to go."
"I feel frustrated when you talk to me like that because it doesn't lead to resolution."
Approval
"You are wonderful." "You are attractive."
"I feel excited when you bring me flowers because it shows you were thinking of me."
Disapproval
"You are terrible." "You suck!"
"I feel irritable when you pee on the floor because I have to clean it up."
Threatening
"You had better..." "If you ___, I'll ____."
"I feel anxious when you come home late because I want to know you're safe."
Moralizing
"You ought to ..." "You should..."
"I feel lonely when you shower alone because it is the only time I get to see you during the week."
Treating
"You need to rest and..." "You need to eat and..."
"I feel concerned when you haven't slept because you seem irritable and we argue more."
Supporting
"It will get better." "Tomorrow will be different."
"I feel confident when you write me letters in the morning because it shows hope."
Analyzing
"You can't stand to leave your mother!" "You're afraid you'll turn out like your dad."
"I feel hostile when you stay at your mother's because we have plans on Friday nights."
This table was developed from the information provided as: http://www.austincc.edu/colangelo/1318/istatements.htm

Sources

Family Home Evening Resource Book By The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Marriages and Families: Making Choices In a Diverse Society, 9th Edition, By Mary Ann Lamanna & Agnes Riedmann

The Handbook of Conflict Resolution Theory and Practice, 2nd Edition, Edited By Morton Deutsch, Peter T. Coleman, & Eric C. Marcus


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My Qualifications (why should you listen to me)

I interned at Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family services for about 10 months. I also earned a BA in Social Work from Cal State LA in 2012, where I studied about human behavior across the lifespan, healthy communication, and functioning relationships. I then worked with children with emotional disturbance and taught them behavioral techniques and how to communicate with others in a positive way. I spent the last year as an investigating children's social worker in San Bernardino County. I am currently interning at Children's Hospital in Aurora, CO where I work in the HIV clinic. I will have an MA in Social Work with an emphasis on risks and healthy development with children and youth, as well as a certificate in animal-assisted social work.

Comments

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  • MrsBkay profile image
    Author

    Britney 4 years ago from Southern California Desert

    Good one. Sometimes it is good to give a little space but if a serious problem isn't dealt with right away resentful feelings might develop.

  • expertscolumn profile image

    Stanley Soman 4 years ago from New York

    You forgot a good one i think, give the other person space and room

    You don't want to be too engaged with a peron we all need our personal space

  • MrsBkay profile image
    Author

    Britney 5 years ago from Southern California Desert

    It's like it says... All about practice and commitment. My husband and I don't use this every time, but when we do problems get solved without an uproar.

  • recappers delight profile image

    recappers delight 5 years ago

    Good comments. I've attended conflict management seminars that advocate much these same techniques, especially using "I" statements.

  • profile image

    themasterchoice 5 years ago from Bangalore, India

    easier said then done....

  • Super Lux profile image

    Super Lux 5 years ago from Singapore

    very informative and practical advice. looking forward to put this into practice :). thanks for posting Mrsbky

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