CONFLICT!!!

Conflict is inevitable in a relationship.  The misconception is that all conflict is bad.  Conflict is bad if you approach it in the wrong way.   Sometimes conflict is good and can strengthen the relationship.   It depends on how you handle it.  Here are four ways to handle a conflict.

The Pacifist-  You hate conflict.  You enjoy harmony and do not like to disagree with another person.  To avoid a disagreement you will go along with almost anything.  You may be a very laid back person who is very adaptable.  You may not mind letting someone else have their way most of the time.  You will speak up only if you think its safe and an argument won’t start.  Otherwise, you keep your mouth shut and let someone else take the lead. This is a fine way to deal with a conflict if you really do not mind giving in.  Why have a conflict over something that doesn’t mean too much to you?  But what if you do mind but don’t say anything???

Miss Passive/Aggressive-  Otherwise known as inner resentment.    This happens when you only give in to avoid an argument but you really feel angry about it inside.   You only go along with what someone else wants to avoid a fight.  Then down the road you will get that person back somehow, someway.  You may forget to do something they want, you may become sarcastic, you may set that person up for an argument with someone else, you  may withhold sex or affection, or you may wash their new red shirt with their whites.  The problem with dealing with conflict this way is that it never really gets resolved.  Your partner thinks you are fine, when you really are not.  They may keep doing things you don’t like because they are unaware of how much it bothers you.  You will start to feel taken advantage of and it isn’t all the other person’s fault that this is happening.

Mr. Aggressive-  You don’t mind conflict.  You almost thrive on a good yelling match.  You feel passionate about a lot of things and don‘t mind letting the whole world know it.  The goal is to win no matter what because losing isn’t an option.  So if that means you have to get loud, be threatening, or physically intimidating to win the argument, you do it.   You may believe you have a sense of entitlement and have a hard time comprehending why people don’t always realize you’re right.  You don’t like to compromise because that means giving up control.  You may believe it is always the other person’s fault for disagreeing with you and blame them for starting the argument.    This makes having a healthy relationship very hard.  No one is going to agree with you all the time and they may feel they have no respect in the relationship.

Mr. and Mrs. Assertive-  To have a healthy relationship, you have to be able to compromise.   Being assertive is being open to another person’s ideas and feelings.  It is also being strong enough to speak up about your own ideas and feelings in a respectful way.  You both may have good points and sometimes it is okay to agree to disagree on things.  Hopefully you didn’t get into a relationship with someone who you think is an idiot.  So, give them a chance to voice their opinion and feel confident enough in yourself to counter if you feel you have a valid point on your end.  Conflict isn’t the enemy, its how we handle it that is the problem.

Ignoring someone is the highest form of disrespect.  You may feel that walking away is the best way to end an argument.  All it does is tell your boyfriend or girlfriend they aren’t worth listening to.  This leads to a lot more anger as your boyfriend or girlfriend feels disregarded and they usually will try to stop you from walking away because they aren’t done saying what they want to say.  When you try to walk away, you take the control with you and that is going to infuriate the other person in the room.

If you find that you are getting too upset to listen, you need to tell the person you need to take a break.  Get away for a few minutes or a few hours so you can stop and think about what is being said.  First, you need to tell your partner where you are going (the other room, to the store, for a walk around the block) and when you will be back to resume the discussion.  The conflict isn’t over just because you walk away.  When you take the break, think through what the other person is trying to say and why you may disagree.   Also think through what you have been trying to say and if there is another way to get your point across to resolve the conflict.  When you feel calmer, resume the discussion and see if the conflict can now be resolved.  If it is a very heated matter, it may take many breaks to get through it.  Most of the time if you sleep on something or let an idea take time to sink in, you may find you actually agree with the other person.  Or you may be more willing to compromise after you’ve taken some time away from it to weigh the alternatives.

Also, remember, anger will lower your IQ by almost 20 points.  If you feel very upset about something you won’t be able to think clearly because all your energy will drain from your brain to your muscles.  Which is why you feel so tense.  Take time to release that energy in a positive way so you can get that oxygen back up to your brain and actually think through the conflict you are having.

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