Want to give
a gift that lasts a lifetime?
How about stopping the fighting and healthily resolving conflict? Here are three quick tips to get you down the drama-free road:
- Original Intent. Remember, you loved this person so much you committed to a relationship together. Over time with consistent unresolved conflict, we begin to see the weaknesses and shortcomings of our partner. Often, these are the backsides of a strength that originally attracted us to him or her. Example. A person who is fun and spontaneous may overdraw the checking account. A person who is the rock of stability may seem inflexible and rigid. Once you begin seeing the negative in a person, changing out your lenses can be difficult. When we see people in a certain perspective, we often put them in a box they can rarely escape. Everything they say or do is now seen and heard in a negative perspective. We no longer give them the benefit of the doubt. We forgot if their original intent was positive. We keep them in a box of negativity. Only we can let them out. There are a few truly evil people in the world. I have not met any yet. Most people begin with good intentions, then something goes sideways. Remember where you started and when things came off the rails. That is the place to repair and put the relationship back on track.
2. Empathy and Understanding. Seek to understand before being understood. God gave us two ears and one mouth. We should use them in proportion. We can never truly understand what another person is feeling, even the one we love so much.
However, we can give the gift of listening to his or her heart, so they FEEL and EXPERIENCE being understood. All too often, we jump in with our own story and fail to listen to his or her story. Empathy is not sympathy. Most of us do want sympathy. We want those closest to understand us. You cannot begin to resolve conflict if you cannot understand each other. You do not need to agree, in fact, on some issues, you may never agree. However, you do need to respect and understand each other. Each of you must feel valued and important, so important you will give undivided attention to listen with empathy seeking to understand the other.
- Perspective. We can fight over the most trivial things! One couple married over 75 years was asked the secret to their lifelong commitment. The answer was simple. “We decided not to fight over the little things”. When asked what a “little thing” was, they said almost everything. Perspective helps to frame life. I often use the crystal ball question. Do you think this would still be an issue five years from now? If the answer is yes, then you certainly need to work through the issue to find a resolution. If the answer is no, then let it go. You have made a little thing into a big thing. We need to fight the urge to always be right. You may prove yourself right and be all alone. Humility goes a long way to apology and forgiveness keeping your relationship strong and loving.
I could go on. Sharlyne and I have been married for over 44 years. Do we have disagreements? Of course! Do we remember the original intent of the other, understand with empathy, and keep things in perspective? Usually. We have our moments, too. But we repair and don’t leave conflict unresolved. May you as well.
Dr. Randall Kinnison, aka Doctor Peace