Conflict resolution is an important element in any relationship. Whether you’re engaged, married, or on the verge of divorce, you can benefit from improving your communication skills and gaining a better understanding of your spouse’s feelings. Marriage counseling, like the programs we offer at Perspectives Of Troy Counseling Centers in Michigan, is a great way to build those skills and gain the tools necessary to keep your relationship going strong.
Here are some conflict resolution tips for married couples, courtesy of our marriage counselors in Michigan.
Forewarn Your Spouse If You Are Feeling Emotional
If you’re feeling stressed, irritable, moody, vulnerable, or anything else along those lines, let your spouse know about it right away. This simple stream of communication can prevent conflicts before they even happen. For example, let’s say that you’ve had a stressful day at work. Everything that happens in the day seems to go unplanned. If your spouse does not know that you’re stressed, he or she may say something that causes you to lash out and get angry. All it takes is saying, “Babe, I’ve had a stressful day and I’m probably going to seem grumpy tonight. It has nothing to do with you, and I would appreciate it if we can keep stress to a minimum for the evening.” See how quickly that could dissolve a problem?
Don’t Talk Over Each Other
We see this all the time in our marriage counseling sessions. One spouse will start to explain his or her side of the story, and the other will chime in before the story is complete. Your marriage counselor can say, “Hold on, let her finish and then you can talk,” but that might not help much for conflicts at home. You have to be your own mediators and respect when it is your spouse’s turn to talk.
Listen to your spouse’s feelings in their entirety, then ask, “Is it okay for me to speak now?” If your spouse is finished, he or she should say, “Yes, go ahead.” Then you have the floor. Talking over one another will only make the argument escalate, and it will prevent you from hearing what the other person has to say.
Present Solutions, Not Problems
Rather than complaining about something in your relationship, try to come up with a logical solution for it. Instead of saying, “We don’t spend enough time together!” Try, “I would like to have a date night once a week. What day works best for your schedule?” The first one is a problem; the second is a solution. If you cannot think of a solution to the issue, tell your spouse that you want to work on a solution together. “I think we should come up with ways to spend more time as a family.” That sets the tone for a positive discussion, not an argument.
As always, your marriage counselor in Michigan can work with you to come up with creative solutions to conflicts in your marriage. Write down the topics that you could not agree on together, and you can discuss them during your next appointment.
Acknowledge Your Own Flaws
It’s easy to point the finger at someone else’s mistakes, but it is much harder to see what you may have done wrong in a situation. What have you done to spark the current conflict or make it worse? What could you have done better? This isn’t to say that you should take all the blame. That falls on both your shoulders. Just make sure that you take a moment to acknowledge your role in the conflict, and your spouse will be more inclined to do the same.