Conflicts happen in all kinds of relationships, whether it is a parent-child; brother-sister; husband-wife; or two friends or collogues relationship. There is always a room for disagreement, due to different views, beliefs, personalities, values, and tastes. Having opposing views can easily trigger conflicts.
Having conflicts in any relationship is healthy and normal, if we use them as opportunities to learn about ourselves and people we are in relationship with and consider them dream doors to deepen the relationship and strengthening it.
However, the common coping mechanisms of blaming, defending, placating and being super-reasonable that people follow in their frequent conflicts are toxic. Conflicts require maturity and a sense of self-security in order to have healthy responses when they happen and find productive solutions that are satisfying for all.
People start their relationships with personal set of expectations. When those expectations are not met, conflicts occur. Those expectations come from past experiences of childhood or previous relationships. The root of those expectations is a universal need to be accepted, loved, validated and valued. But this need gets distorted by the different meanings people give to it.
While love might mean spending quality time together for someone, the other person may perceive love and care as buying lots of gifts and not necessarily have to spend much time with the people they love. When the meaning each person gives to love is not satisfied, and their expectations from the other person are not met, their yearning to be loved gets affected, hitting their sense of self-worth and activating their fight, flight or freeze response. Finding a resolution gets harder and harder.
It is important to realize that unhealthy coping mechanisms to constant conflicts can takeaway trust and respect from your relationship. Making it harder for both partners to co-exist peacefully. This can result heartbreaks, separation, or divorce.
We are going to explore together how to stop seeing a conflict as a threat and start viewing it as an opportunity of growth to deepen our relationships, by doing the following:
- Don’t make every little molehill a mountain
Avoid turning every situation into a battle ground. You really don’t need to turn every disagreement to an argument. Show flexibility in your conflicts and analyse whether the trigger is worth fighting for. Having an argument on every disagreement can lead your partner to become less interested in investing in the relationship.
- Practice acceptance
The more we accept ourselves the way we are, the more willing we become to accept others the way they are. And if we allow someone to enter our lives, then we need to understand that they will come carrying their opinions and perceptions too. Remember that your partner comes from a different background, no matter how similar cultures or beliefs you think you both have, s/he will still be another person, not you, and has never lived your life. Practice explaining your view of the world when conflicts arise and listening to your partner’s. If both of you don’t reach a common ground – accept to be different and move forward together!
- Exercise patience
It is never wise to give an immediate response. I know it is hard to silence your ego in the middle of an argument but keep telling yourself to stop and find a better time to revisit the discussion when tension is not high. This will help settle down the dust and will make you and your partner see a clearer picture of the situation. Then, ask your partner when they are ready to sit down with you and discuss the matter.
- Manage your expectations
This is not to tell you that you should expect less or more, but rather to be aware that your partner may have different expectations than you. Don’t assume that you and your partner would be on the same page every time. Activate your compassion and try to have a discussion before putting forward your needs. This will help you to evaluate whether it is a good time to demand your expectations to be met or not.
- Search for deeper meaning
Some conflicts may seem non-significant and worthless. But there is always a deeper meaning behind them. Try to understand why they happen. Dig deeper to learn about the concerns and complains of each other. Searching for deeper yearnings is an important step in improving the relationship. If your partner is un-willing or not ready yet to reach deeper with you. At least look deeper inside yourself.
- Desire Harmony
The most important thing in any argument is to seek harmony and look for what serves the relationship. Don’t forget that both of you came together because you like and value each other. Understand that both of you can have different opinions and still respect and love each other. Sometimes letting go of things will induce your partner to respect and value your opinions more. And you will be able to develop much peaceful and loving relationship together.
Expect that you will encounter experiences that will please you and others that will not in your relationships. Having this understanding will help you to forgive. Remember that forgiveness isn’t just about retaining harmony in your relationship; it is also about being kind to yourself by forgiving your own mistakes. Learn from each other’s differences. It will help you to grow as a partner and a person. Cherish the relationship as the union between two flawed human beings. Couples tend to repeat their old patterns ; taking conscious steps to undo these patterns will give you an opportunity to create a new and healthier way of relating.