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Too Much Togetherness in Life and Love? Relationship Tips
Be the last love!
What is Conflict Management?
According to Wikipedia conflict management refers to the long-term management of intractable conflicts. It is the label for the variety of ways by which people handle grievances—standing up for what they consider to be right and against what they consider to be wrong.
Okay, that's one type of conflict management, here's mine: Conflict management is a way to handle (avoid) conflicts and in this case, avoid conflicts that arise in a relationship, whether as a married couple or an unmarried couple.
My Mom wrote me a letter when I got married at the age of 20, offering her long term marriage advice. Unfortunately, I did not see this letter until well into our first year of marriage, long after we had gone through many conflicts!
Her best advice was never go to bed angry. Mole hills become mountains overnight! So, when you have a conflict, always sit down and discuss it, then come to a fair and reasonable solution to the problem. It is truly amazing how such minor disagreements become major problems when they are not worked out when they first occur. THIS is truly conflict management! You must be able to discuss anything and everything in a relationship, if you cannot do this, your relationship is doomed to end or at least you will wish it would end!
Her next best piece of advice was to hold your words when angry. Walk away when an argument erupts BEFORE words are said that you will definitely regret later. When you have calmed down, then ask to speak to him or her to discuss the heated topic. Then, be sure you are both calm, both able to express your point of view. In addition, you both must LISTEN to the others point of view.
Compromise is an absolute necessity in conflict management! You've heard over and over again that relationships are partnerships and in partnerships each partner should be giving and receiving fifty percent at all times. However, when one partner is sick, absent or just too busy to pull his or her fifty percent, then the other partner should be able to do his or her share. This is where the 110% or 150% comes in . . . you consider your fifty percent as giving your all (or 100%). When you must pick up the other fifty percent (or ten percent more) then you are giving it 100% or 110%. The 150% is an exaggeration, which we all feel at certain times in our lives. So, please be prepared to pick up your partners slack, when necessary, and he/she should expect to do the same. This is the needed compromise!
Be loyal to your partner. Never, ever cheat on him or her in any way! When someone tells me that they only cheated on their spouse because they were not getting what they needed from their spouse I have to ask, did you tell him/her this? If not, why not? This goes back to communication. If your spouse is not meeting your needs, then you must sit down and tell him/her this. Yes, it may be painful for both of you; however, the alternative is much worse!
If you can't verbally discuss certain things, then put it all in writing, then sit down while this person reads your laundry list of concerns. It is best to preface this by telling the person that you love him or her and you know that the things you have written will be hurtful; however, it is important to discuss before things get worse. (Remember that mole hill turning into a mountain overnight? Well, this is the price you pay when you don't discuss things openly and immediately!)
Many couples start having major disagreements (conflicts) when things change in their lives. Whether it is an empty nest situation, a death in the family, the loss of a pet, the loss of a job, an illness or other devastating loss you must be able to sit down and discuss this with your spouse/partner. Your spouse/partner should be your best friend, if that is not the case, then you need to make some big changes in your relationship. As your best friend, you should be able to tell him/her anything. And, as your best friend, you should be able to rely on him/her for his/her support and understanding. If you are not getting this warm and fuzzy feeling from him/her, then it is time for a relationship adjustment! When you have a bad day you should be able to and should want to sit down and tell your best friend all about it, not just for empathy, but for advice as well.
When you became a couple, you were probably told that the two of you became as one. Well, in certain aspects that is true; however, in other aspects you still remain as individuals. You are not giving up your personality, your individuality, your wants, your expertise or your friends and family members. Yes, you will be putting your spouse/partner ahead of all others; however, you are not shedding them as a snake sheds his skin! When you add a spouse/partner to your life, you are adding to not replacing your family. Please always remember this! You must have some alone time, enjoy your individual hobbies and activities. You must never become so dependent on your spouse/partner that you cannot survive without him/her. And, you should not expect your spouse/partner to go with you to every family function, especially if it conflicts with his wants or needs. Another potential conflict area is insisting that your spouse go shopping with you when he hates shopping! It is okay to insist that he go with you to select his clothing or maybe even shopping for a special occasion; however, to avoid conflict, please do not ask or expect him to go with you every week! That goes for the husband, too. Do not expect your wife to go with you every time you go to the local home improvement store to pick up materials for that new project you have planned. That would not be healthy for either of you! An occasional outing that includes a quick stop at a department or home improvement store is tolerable, but to insist on a constant companion when you are shopping for something your spouse is not interested in could prove to be World War III.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder is a wonderful adage that we must all remember. You must strive to keep your relationship new, mysterious, exciting and unpredictable. Do not let it become boring or confining. Too much of a good thing is still too much. It is okay to have certain days set aside for certain things, but don't become so set in your life that you can't get out and enjoy something new. Just because you normally go out for seafood once a week does not mean you cannot substitute a steak periodically or vice versa.
If you can't sleep in the same room due to your partner snoring, one tossing and turning and keeping the other awake or one who insists on reading in bed, there is nothing wrong with having his and hers bedrooms, closets and bathrooms. You can visit each other on a regular basis, yet sleep soundly apart, secure in the fact that he/she is nearby. This is especially true for the second or third time around couples, couples who work different hours, when one person is a morning person and one is a night owl. Conflict management goes into overtime if you cannot work out the differences in an amicable way. Just think of it as another example of absence making the heart grow fonder and how exciting it could be for you to slip into his bed unexpectantly in the middle of the night.
Being apart is necessary, not only for sleeping purposes, but for peace keeping as well. When both spouses/partners are retired or both at home for whatever reason, this can cause severe conflict. Instead of one spouse/partner being the one taking care of the house, you now have two. This is a major conflict when the kitchen has been off limits for one spouse/partner and now he/she is there and wants to "help". I heard of one recently retired husband who decided he needed to organize the kitchen pantry to make it easier for him to find everything. This was maddening for his wife --- how dare he bring his organization skills into her kitchen?!? She never went to his office and told him how to organize it and she resented him trying to take over her kitchen. Can you identify with her? Conflict management is definitely needed here. The best solution would be for her to get him involved in a time-consuming hobby to keep him out of the house (and her kitchen). If he has never played golf, why not give him a set of golf clubs and line up golf lessons? If he already plays golf, be sure you line up your friend's husbands to play golf with him at least twice a week, or more. Have him volunteer with some great charity organizations, sharing his skills will keep him feeling needed, but it will also keep his mind and body in tip top shape. Other activities that will help keep him in shape: tennis, swimming, walking, photography, writing, book clubs, poker, bridge (or other mens card groups), dance lessons for both of you, bird watching, wood working, boating, fishing, etc. You do not want to overwhelm him with activities, so just introduce him to one or two at a time. If he's too busy he won't be there to help you with the "Honey Do" list. There are so many volunteer opportunities for each of you, so please check these out with the senior centers in your area. You can do some things together; however, you must both have your own individual leisure activities as well.
Remember that a busy person is a happy person! So, both of you should be as busy as you want to be, but do not make it too busy. Enjoy yourselves! Do not get involved or stay involved in an activity or group if you do not enjoy it. Remember life is short, so do not waste time or money on something you do not like. And, learn how to say "no" effectively! This is necessary to keep everyone (family, friend, neighbor or foe) from saying, "Since you aren't working, could you do such and so?" NOOOOO! It is okay to help out in an emergency; however, do not become the errand person for everyone.
Good luck with keeping your conflicts at a minimum and using conflict management when they do arise. Remember the words to Josh Turner's new top hit, "Why Don't We Just Dance". If you have not seen the video, check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTxo1CkMwBI This is one of those songs that you must "see" the video and hear him singing the words. The song takes you through the decades as a young couple dance from the hippie days and beyond, but listen to the words, too... "Baby, why don't we just turn that TV off? . . . " Good advice in keeping things from getting boring, don't you think?