I know couples who seem to fight all the time.  Some are always on the verge of walking out, while others would label their marriage as very happy.  What is the difference?  It may be in how we approach conflict.  Unless we are exactly like the person we are in a relationship with (in which case, one of us is unnecessary), we are going to have conflict.  Many are afraid of conflict and think it is a bad thing.  Others see it as an opportunity to learn from each other, come to better understandings, and grow both individually and in the relationship.

You may think, “you make it sound like it should somehow be easy – yet it is anything but that.”  I completely get that.  We have all experienced what I would call “over-the-top, nightmare conflict.”  However, even in the midst of difficult conflict, and I truly know what that looks like, I want to suggest 5 tips that might be helpful in moving conflict in a positive direction.

First, try to address the issue as quickly as possible.  Some things cannot be addressed immediately.  But to prevent differences from festering, sooner rather than later resolution is helpful.

Second, refrain from name calling.  All that this really does is give us an element of hurtful control and widens the gap that we are already feeling.  Name calling never serves to move us closer to solving the issue.

Third, don’t intimidate.  Individuals will default to this tactic when they feel they are losing an argument and they want to win at all costs.  Remember – resolution is your goal.

Four, don’t deflect – stick to the subject.  It is so easy to get off on tangents – especially when the current topic is not working to your advantage.  Work diligently to stay focused on the current issue.

Finally, remember that your partner is not the enemy.  Whether you have been married 35 years or are newlyweds – whether you have kids at home or they are grown and out on their own – whether you are engaged or are just dating – remember that you are in this together.   It is important that we focus on the fact that we are a “we.”  Instead of battling against each other, let’s battle for “us.”

We married someone who is different from ourselves because we valued qualities and perspectives that we were lacking.  Those differences can truly be blessings and even protections if we will embrace them.  Which one of these tips might be most helpful to you and your relationship today?  I would love to hear.