It’s important to resist the urge to bring up past experiences that have already been resolved and reopen them for discussion. Acknowledge the current disagreement and work through the conflict by actively listening to your partner. Respect your partner, remember you are on the same team, and know it’s okay to take a time out if you need to. While embracing the conflict and dealing with it can be uncomfortable, it can ultimately bring you closer as a couple.
What are your automatic negative responses when conflict arises? Anger? Withdrawal? Defensiveness? How do these reactions affect your ability to resolve issues respectfully? What can you do to counteract these reactions?
What does “take responsibility for your own feelings” mean to you? What does it feel like to recognize your feelings in the situation? Are you relieved? Do you feel more vulnerable? Do you feel proud? How does this help emotionally charged situations?
Consider conflict resolution vs. conflict management:
What is the difference between resolving an issue and managing an issue? Is it a failure if you and your partner can’t resolve a conflict? Are there some conflicts that need to be managed because they can never be completely resolved?
How can you show your partner respect in the midst of conflict? What do you need to feel respected? Why is it important to be conscious of respect?
How does non-verbal communication contribute to dealing with conflict? What are non-verbal cues that you give your partner or that your partner gives you that influence the direction of the discussion? Ask your partner what they often observe as you might not notice your own non-verbal cues, but remember to be respectful.
Source: Discussion Guide for Couples, PREPARE/ENRICH 2017.
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