5 Signs You’re Ending Conflict All Wrong, According to Psychology
Regardless of the issue—may it be about the chores, listening, time spent at work versus at home, spending and saving, showing enough affection, timing of arousal, past mistakes, how to spend vacations, showing commitment and faithfulness, you name it—the way to end the conflict may prevent the same type from happening again or bring it back with full force.
Ever heard the term “shoving it under the rug?” Most of us use this to express frustration that nothing has been resolved.
So if you’re ending conflict in these ways, it will definitely feel unresolved by one or both of you.
1. Slamming the door on our way out. Although necessary, when things get heated, it leaves a conversation still to be had. Besides the fact that our partner may not appreciate us leaving abruptly in a hostile way, it makes the re-encounter even more difficult, because of the way we left. The retreat to cool down should be done as smooth and as soft as possible. And should only be used to cool down—not to avoid the issue.
2. Stonewalling. This is our natural reaction when we are overwhelmed with feelings and shut down to feel safe. It’s another way of withdrawing and avoiding the issue, but we are not in the mood to talk. Some stonewalling can be melted away with a soft approach by their partner, but the rest is locked in and is unbreakable. Time to cool off is needed, but again, there is still a problem to resolve.
3. Getting our way or the highway. Whether it is you or I, there is a clear loser. When we get our way and don’t budge, we are using our power, whatever power we have over our partner. Say we earn more money, so we decide where we go for vacation. We think the problem is solved, but it only creates another. The one sacrificing their needs will feel resentful towards them. The powerful partner will be surprised when their loser partner doesn’t budge anymore or simply has less affection towards them than before.
4. Keeping the peace. Or so we think we are. If something bothers us, we may not bring it up or even say a “little white lie” to avoid bringing up a storm. We don’t want to let things get out of control and prefer things to stay the way they are. This is a damaging bad habit. Its “peaceful” and non-confrontational appeal is deceiving. Keeping this habit is secretly tearing down the relationship, because no one is aware it’s happening. It’s best to lay down all the cards on the table. And focus on one issue at a time. Don’t allow each other to expect all your problems to be solved in a short amount of time. Work on one issue at a time and use this time to build up trust. When we trust each other to solve issues, then the issues don’t feel so overwhelming or out of control.
5. Compromise. We hear this all the time: “learn how to compromise.” Some of are convinced this is the foundation of happy matrimony. It’s definitely a better alternative then the rest, and there may be problems where both of us need to give some so we are both not left completely empty handed. The discoverer of these patterns of how to end conflict, Dr. D.R. Peterson, describes compromise as the one where partners’ “interests are diluted rather than reconciled.” For some problems, this may be the best solution, but in other situations, we don’t have to reduce our interests or needs and both of us can feel fully satisfied.
The main reason these don’t work?
They’re an act of betrayal.
We feel wronged when we can’t come to a solution. We even start to believe that these patterns are signs that “we are not meant to be.” On the contrary, these are signs that you are going down the same dead end. There’s another route to get out of the maze.
So what is this majestic formula to end conflict where both our goals, aspirations and needs are fully resolved?
Well, realistically, we underestimate our imagination and creativity to solving issues where we both feel like winners. If we apply resourcefulness and determination, we may be surprised.
Learn more on how to Win Every Fight.
Now that you know the signs and what they stand for….
- Use cool downs when you retreat, and decide on a time and date when to discuss the issue. Make sure the issue is discussed, especially when you’re in better moods.
- Each of you can make a list of what would make you feel safe when discussing an issue. Exchange the list so you both know what the other person needs. Practicing your personalized list will help both of you to feel safe to bring up an issue.
- Creatively think of all the possible solutions that can satisfy both of you. You can learn more at Win Every Fight.
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