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“Delightful Disputes”

 Munira Ezzeldine
In order to achieve conflict resolution a person must first:
  • Begin with basic acceptance of their partner’s personality.
  • Accept that there is no absolute reality in marital conflict, only two subjective realities.
  • Have respect for your spouse and be open to his/her point of view.
  • Not let things bottle up.

She outlined Five Steps to Conflict Resolution using the book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by Dr. John Gottman.

They are:
1. Soften your approach:
– Make statements that start with “I” instead of “You:”
“You are not listening to me” vs. “I would like it if you listened to me”
“You don’t care about me” vs. “I feel neglected”
– Describe what is happening, don’t evaluate or judge:
“You never help me with the baby” vs. “I feel like I am the only one running around after the baby”
– Be clear about what you want and be polite:
“Would you give the baby a bath for once” vs. “Please give the baby a bath today”
– Be appreciative:
“I really appreciate that you rescheduled your meeting to come home early so we can spend time together”

2. Make and receive ‘Repair Attempts:’
– Putting on brakes is an important skill because it de-escalates an argument.
– Happy couples send and receive repair attempts with ease.
– Relationships engulfed in negativity have difficulty “hearing” repair attempts.
– Make the attempts obviously formal to emphasize them.
– Repair attempts are what will pull a couple out of the downward negative spiral.
– Accept the attempt in the spirit it was intended.
– Accept your spouse’s influence.

Here are some examples of Repair Attempt phrases that you can use during disagreements:

3. Calm down:
– Let you spouse know you are feeling overwhelmed.
– Call a time-out and take a break.
– Re-schedule for when you will resume the discussion.
– Do what it takes to calm yourself down (pray, sleep, do a chore, etc).
– Give each other space to calm down.

4. Compromise:
– Negotiation can only happen once steps 1 – 3 have occurred.
– Compromise can only work when you open your mind to your spouse’s opinions and desires.
– You don’t have to agree to everything; but you have to be open to considering his position.
– Ask your spouse questions to help see his point of view.
– Search for the parts of your spouse’s perspective that are reasonable.
– Compromise is just talking out your differences and preferences and coming to a common ground that accommodates both.
– Ask yourselves these questions when trying to reach a compromise:

  • What do we agree about?
  • What are the most important feelings here?
  • What common goals do we have?
  • How can we understand this issue?
  • How do we think these goals should be accomplished?

5. Be tolerant:
– “If only” thoughts and attitudes about your spouse will make conflicts very difficult to solve.
– Accept your spouse’s flaws & faults – unconditional love.
– Recognize that you cannot change your spouse.
– Recognize that you are two imperfect beings trying to make a life together.

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