Conflicts occur in every single relationship. To guide yourself through to a strengthened relationship, you must learn how to manage conflict. Brushing conflict under the rug can be detrimental to any relationship. You must be able to face the issues within your relationship in order to move forward. However, there are so many different ways to resolve conflict, the question is, are you doing it the effective way?
Manage vs. Resolve
In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman’s research proves that 69% of problems in a relationship are unsolvable. These may be things like personality traits your partner has that rub you the wrong way, or long-standing issues around spending and saving money. – The Gottman Institute
When you’re conflicting with your partner about the same issue over and over, the issue is probably part of the 69% of problems in a relationship that are unsolvable. This doesn’t mean your relationship is broken or that you need to end it. Instead of resolving the conflict, you need to learn how to manage it instead.
When you manage something, you’re taking control of or being in charge of it. When you resolve, you are settling or finding a solution. However, how do you find a solution to a problem that is unsolvable?
The Cause of Conflict
It’s probably a good idea to figure out the cause of conflict before managing or resolving anything. Is the disagreement brand new or has it stemmed from the root of a past situation? You’ll need to understand where it started, your perception of it as well as your partner’s. It’s also important to figure out where the conflict is drawn from an interest or a need. What’s the difference?
An interest is transitory and more superficial, such as land, money or a job. A need runs deeper – identity, security, respect, for example. Many conflicts appear to be about interests, but in fact the behaviour of the people involved is driven by needs. – IMD
Open and Honest Management
Managing conflict requires open and honest communication as the first step. Effective dialogue requires self-awareness and a willingness to manage conflict. When managing conflict, we must be able to put our communication and negotiation skills to the test. Why negotiation? Managing conflict is a long term thing, therefore, negotiating the outcome will allow you and your partner to figure out a happy medium. Dialogue is also a way to productively manage the issue on a fair and balanced table. It is a two way street, therefore you both have the opportunity to talk about your concerns.