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Handling Conflicts in Relationships

Apr. 16, 2022 .4 min read

According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, conflict means to be different, opposed, or contradictory, or to fail to be in agreement or accord. Any relationship without any form of conflict is a suspect. How can you be with a full-blooded human being and you never come to a point of clashing opinions???

If you are in a relationship where the other person ALWAYS agrees to what you say, you need to step back and seriously evaluate things. That relationship is a bomb waiting to explode at the pressing of a button.

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So, ideally, conflicts happen. Let this sink in! If it happens between parents, twins, and siblings, why won’t it happen between you and your partner? Your conflict could result from past experiences, differing backgrounds, varied philosophies, opposite goal posts, likes, and dislikes, etc. It could happen one or numerous times in a day. It could be over something so simple or something complex. It could be easy to glide over or take days to resolve. Whichever category it falls into, it is still conflict.

How do we respond when conflict happens?

There are three ways.

You could approach the conflict Emotionally, Rationally, or Empathically.

Responding Emotionally: There is always a large tendency to respond to a conflict based on how we feel. It could be anger, pride, low self-esteem, courage, pity, etc. “Why did he do that to me?” “Who does she think she is?” “Is it because of what he did for me before now?”… One thing that is common to these questions is that the major concern is about “Me.” Thinking only about yourself is a way of cloaking a situation, hindering you from seeing the full picture and judging rightly. You need to tell your emotions to calm down and follow the lead of reasoning to listen before concluding.

Responding Rationally: This is common for people who are more concerned about facts and figures. “When did this start?” “This must be because of that incidence.” “This is the third time he is doing this.” This approach employs more assumptions that flow from statistics of, obviously, past incidents. This approach in itself is also a wrong one as it positions you as having all answers and knowing exactly what and how your partner thinks. As much as you are beginning to understand your partner’s thinking pattern is as much as you need to admit that if you’re not the person, you’re not the person. So, instead of assuming, calm down and ask questions. It may only be plated gold, meanwhile, it is pure silver.

Responding with Empathy: Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position (Wikipedia). This is one thing we all must learn to do, not just in marital relationships but in every kind of relationship. It is this skill that helps us to understand why someone else did what we saw/heard. It helps you to know how to respond and the kind of action to take. For example, it is not every offense committed by a child that requires flogging. Patiently listening to the “Why” of the child will help you know the appropriate punishment and much more, empowering you to know how to instruct the child against such in the future. This also applies to our partners. “Why did he do that?” “Is there something I need to know?” “I feel like this is why you did this, am I right?”… It sure involves active listening skills. The dividends, however, make for a stronger bond between you two.

Which approach have you been employing? Which approach would you be employing from now?

Please, drop your comments and share with others.

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