[Re-Post] Manage Conflict

Let’s keep the ball rolling! Yeah, I’m back to being on top of things again. Yipee!

So, originally I broke Manage Conflict, the fifth level of the Sound Relationship House, into several posts. I’m going to continue that pattern, because I truly want everyone to understand how integral this piece of the puzzle is in happy relationships. All relationships have conflict and it’s how a couple manages this turmoil that dictates whether they fail or succeed. It’s not about how calm the waters are, but how you navigate them when they get choppy. That’s what gets you to relationships you read about in Jane Austen books and see in Sandra Bullock movies. Amiright?

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Let’s do another Sound Relationship House post. Those are always fun and I’m getting tired of talking about this darn house. It’s time to move on to bigger and better things. So far we’ve addressed:

Three More! The next level in the SRH is a doozy to discuss and I don’t want anyone feeling like they don’t get it or walk away and get in a giant fight with their partner about who fed the fish or why the sky is blue and blaming me. So, we’re going to take it nice and slow. That still doesn’t mean you can blame me the next time you get in a fight with your partner.

So, we’ll go over the basics and then break down how to work through conflict from there. Sound good? No? Well you don’t have a choice.

First: What does “Manage Conflict” mean, anyway? It’s kind of obvious, right?

Lay the Smackdown on your partner. Show them what the Rock is cooking. Tell them John Cena will be in another movie if they continue their behavior.

Okay, none of these are viable options if you want your relationship to be pleasant. The truth is, people fight, they disagree, they have their moments where they get really upset that someone ate the leftovers in the fridge you were saving for your dinner.

69 percent of relationship problems are perpetual. This means that this stuff will NEVER change. So, if you started dating someone and they did not brush their teeth very often, guess what? They will likely be an inconsistent flosser for the rest of their lives barring any serious periodontal disease threats or intense gingivitis. Makes for some great kissing, huh? Especially when they get dentures at the ripe old age of 42.

So there’s the other 31% of conflict which is the “solvable problems”. How do we work through those?

Well, Gottman found there were four strategies that were used consistently in the couples he studied that were considered the “Masters of Relationships”. What did they do?

  • Softened Startup

This is not a conversation where you enter the room and go, “We need to talk.”

This is a conversation where you plan to have a discussion. Even if your kids aren’t potty trained, your cat just puked on your new duvet, or if you are just having the worst week ever, you don’t get permission to dump your stuff on your partner. They are likely cleaning up urine and hairballs, too. You are both busy. You wouldn’t go to your boss and walk in to his/her office and go, “We need to talk”. Show some freaking courtesy (please). Ask when they will not be preoccupied and you can have a discussion about something that has been on your mind. You don’t have to be butterflies and rainbows about it, but acknowledge that this person is supposed to be your best friend and then treat their time with respect. The conversation will likely go infinitely better if you say something like, “Hey, when the kids are in bed and the duvet is in the wash, you think you’ll be awake enough to talk about something that’s been on my mind? I feel like we should hash it out when we’re both able to focus.”

Hey guys, do you have time to read some more? I think this post is long enough, so I’m going to wrap it up here and hash it out the next three or so days. I don’t want to bore you to tears with a really long post. Is that okay? Oh, it is? Great! I’m so glad! Thanks for being so patient and reading. I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about “Accepting Influence”. Get excited.



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Posted on by Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA Posted in Couples, Family, Jobs, Mind, Theory
Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA

About Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA

Hi, I’m Jen. I’m a mental health counselor newly residing in Seattle, Washington. I strongly believe in the mind-body connection as the cornerstone of my professional ideology, along with the healing possibilities of puppies, a good glass of red wine, the smell of a new book, and the importance of travel.