My boyfriend and I are different in many ways.
And no matter how much we like and love each other, sometimes our differences will get in the way and bring about conflicts and disagreements, which is absolutely okay. But we have to make sure we know how to resolve them in a healthy manner.
Whatever disagreements and conflict may be present in the relationship, they can be resolved without arguing, yelling and even possibly throwing things across the room. You can still have conflict and not have blow-up fights.
Here are some ways you can resolve conflict without actively arguing or fighting.
#1. Use your inside voice.
When kids are throwing a tantrum or yelling, parents usually tell them to use their inside voice, or at least my friend’s parents did when I was in elementary school. I think that that could be said to adults as well.
With emotions running high, it’s easier to just say things based off of what you’re feeling right then and there instead of stopping to think of different ways to say it without being critical or without attacking your S.O.
Because it’s so hard, you need to be intentional about using your inside voice. When you feel your emotions overwhelming you, breathe and choose to use that voice over yelling because it does make a difference.
You won’t get your point across by raising your voice. Don’t let your emotions control you; you need to learn how to control your emotions and you can do that if you choose to.
#2. If you feel like you’re going to blow up, tell your S.O. and go to another room.
It is a whole lot better to tell your S.O. that you need time to cool off and go to another room to process it separately, than to blow your top off and say things you probably don’t mean.
A lot of people, specifically those in the first generation, like to leave the house and take a drive to cool down. I think that even though it could help you cool down, it’s not the smart way to do it. Going into a different room or part of the house is not the same as leaving to take a drive.
Tell them that you need some time to cool down before you can continue to discuss the problem and to find a solution with them. But don’t take a day, unless it’s late at night and you think that a good night’s sleep will clear your head more.
#3. Identify the problem and avoid pointing fingers at each other.
Conflict is a part of a healthy relationship and it’s ultimately inevitable because you’re bound to come to disagreements about certain things, but hopefully not everything. But I see that many couples make the mistake of shifting the focus away from the problem and onto their S.O.
In a relationship, when there’s a problem, it shouldn’t be you vs. your S.O. but you and your S.O. vs. the problem, because that’s what both of you are trying to overcome and resolve, right? So if that’s the case, blaming each other won’t get either of you any closer to a solution.
Once you and your S.O. can see what the problem is, you can work together to come up with a solution that works and that the two of you can come to an agreement with.
#4. Take responsibility for your actions and words.
Not pointing fingers at each other doesn’t mean that both of you are blameless. There may be one person who is the offender and the other who, depending on how they reacted to it, may also be an offender, in a sense that they hurt the other person so they know how it feels.
If I overreact to something, I own up to it by saying, “I overreacted and I had no reason to be. That’s my fault,” and if my boyfriend had reacted in an inconsiderate way, he’d do the same by saying, “I shouldn’t have responded to you in that way,” and then we apologize to each other.
Many couples are satisfied and pleased when either of them own up to their mistakes and apologize because it takes a lot of humility to admit that and swallow your pride. This is an important part of resolving conflict because it shows that both of you are willing to practice humility and not selfishness.
#5. Have a conversation, not an interrogation.
I’ve watched more than enough episodes of Law & Order to know that having an interrogation is not the way to approach and address an issue or conflict with your S.O. because interrogations are pretty much accusing someone of doing something wrong.
Having a conversation as opposed to a screaming match or an interrogation is more efficient and healthy when it comes to conflict. My boyfriend and I do our best to have a conversation and a discussion instead of accusing each other of doing something wrong.
In order to do that, ask questions but make sure they’re not crafted to give the impression that you’re assuming instead of asking.
For example, instead of asking, “How come you’re so inconsiderate?” be more specific and say something along the lines of, “I felt disrespected when you talked to me in the way that you did. Why did you do that?” Both questions ask the same thing but one is accusatory while the other is out of genuine curiosity and willing to understand.
#6. Seek to understand and listen.
It’s important that you and your S.O. understand each other in times of conflict. It’s crucial that you understand where they’re coming from and understand their perspective and views, and vice versa.
When my boyfriend and I are in the midst of a conflict or either of us address a specific issue that we’re going through, we try to listen, not to reply but to understand how we’re feeling and what we think of that particular situation.
Next time that a conflict arises or you and your S.O. disagree on something, ask them about how they’re feeling and how they see it and express that you’re asking because you want to understand, not to use it against them in any way.