Relationship Conflict: Show Respect and Earn It Back

In relationships, as in many aspects of life, "fair" is a relative term. To some people, "fair" means treating everyone the same. To other people, "fair" means doing what's needed to bring everyone up to the same level.

So, when it comes to a love relationship, you're naturally going to have a different viewpoint from your sweetie. The trick is to find a compromise.

Tug of War
If you like cuddling at home and your mate loves to socialize, how do you resolve a Friday night when you're debating whether to watch a new movie on the sofa or meet some friends for drinks and maybe dinner?

First, resist the temptation to keep stating the same point in different ways. Your opinion was probably clear the first three times you said it. You're not going to change your sweetie's view by trying to drill it into his or her head over and over, or by saying it louder. You're only going to activate the "stop badgering me" force field. Then nothing gets in but bad vibes.

Bad vibes lead to not only misunderstanding and differing viewpoints, but anger. Lots of anger.

Different Perspective
You will be better off if you seek understanding. When you're upset, it can be really hard to see another person's viewpoint. So ask your partner what they want out of the alternative situation—the one that's not your choice.

And listen, really listen. Then try your best to mirror back what your sweetie said. That way you confirm that you're getting the other perspective accurately and not putting your own spin on it. If you paraphrase your partner's view, and you get corrected, try again to mirror back. Really understanding is the first step.

Then, try to explain your own viewpoint in a way that doesn't make your partner out to be a villain for disagreeing with you. Phrase your preference in ways that explain and enlighten. You should be striving for empathy, not an apology.

The real key to the conflict resolution is your respect for one another's viewpoints and your willingness to make each other happy. If you want to prove you're right and your partner is wrong, then good luck!

Middle Ground
If you want to be happy together, then you'll need to seek ways to make each one of you feel good about the outcome. You'll need to find a way to meet your needs for recognition, respect, understanding, caring and affirmation.

No one can tell you how to do that. That's why you need understanding first.

If you really know your partner's reasons and views, and you've shared your own, then you should be able to find a middle ground. That doesn't mean a compromise smack dab in the middle of the two extremes. It means you are willing to accommodate your honey's request in some way, and your honey is able to reach out and be considerate of your request.

Give and you shall receive…a better relationship! Not a conflict-free one, but a stronger one.

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