Relationships, no matter what they form they take, are not always easy. None are perfect. At one point or another, there will be conflict. Sandy Ramsey of An Honest Sinner gives us the perfect checklist.
I’m very fortunate in my current marriage. Considering I’ve been down the road before I’ve gotten an education along the way. It helps that I’m older now and only slightly more mature. I will also admit that having the right partner is a beautiful head start.
Still, my husband and I are complete opposites: he is the logical one and I am the emotional one. We don’t always see eye to eye and, while we’ve very rarely had a full on, no holds barred argument in the eighteen years we’ve been together, we have had moments of uncomfortable disagreement.
Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:
Take a time out.
In the heat of the moment words can be thrown carelessly and once they are out it is very difficult to take them back. Even an apology doesn’t completely erase a damaging remark that may very well crack the foundation. Sometimes walking away until you are calmer and able to communicate a little better is the very best thing to do.
Make time and find a place to talk about it.
The dinner table with the kids is not the place. I like to leave the bedroom off limits (there’s a whole other use for that later). Pick a quiet, neutral zone where you are comfortable and can really hear each other.
Stick with the real issue.
Now is not the time to bring up every tiny thing that has gone wrong in all the years you’ve been together.
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Beating around the bush and playing games is not going to resolve anything. At the same time, listen and encourage your partner to do the same. Both of you need to be involved. It’s a conversation, not a lecture.
Think of this time as problem solving—not an argument and certainly not a contest.
In times of conflict we often think there needs to be a winner and a loser. Think compromise and resolution—win/win, if you will. It’s a relationship, not Monopoly.
Respect is vital.
Try not to yell and, whatever you do, don’t hit below the belt. Personal attacks benefit absolutely no one.
Absolutely, positively never let it become physical.
Don’t compare your relationship to that of others.
Believe me, those others have their own issues. Always keep the focus on your own relationship. Comparisons can just bring on more friction.
Don’t hesitate to take a break.
At some point you will only be talking at each other. If you can find a stopping point, table the conversation for a period of time. Give some thought to what your partner has said and come back later with solutions and compromises but remember to keep focus on the issue at hand.
Let it go.
When it’s over, it’s over. With hope, the two of you are able to come to a peaceful conclusion that both are satisfied with. Chalk that up to a relationship win, not an individual one, and get on with the living and the loving.
Is it foolproof? Of course not! Nothing ever is. All relationships are different. Some are easy. Some, not so much.
These are just a few of the things I have learned work for me in my own marriage. Neither I nor my husband are perfect but we’ve learned to decide which battles are important and tackle the ones that have the potential to break apart what we’ve spent years building.
The rest…meh. We’ve found better ways to spend our time.
Originally appeared at The Good Men Project.