Often we may feel is if we are walking on egg shells in our personal relationships. If we talk about our feelings our spouse or partner seems to get their back up and we find ourselves in the middle of a conflict. A hurtful situation occurs and both partners may feel frustrated, guilty, confused, and even angry. We have heard people say many times that it takes two people to have a problem and yet it seems that it is the other who is creating or "starting" the conflict. Unfortunately we are not able to objectively see ourselves and this contributes greatly to the problem.
One thing that can help is to establish rules for fighting. We need to have some degree of tension in a relationship but we don't want that tension to get out of hand. One of my mentors described it this way. For a sailboat to function effectively there needs to be just the right amount of tension in the sail. If there is no wind the sailboat doesn't move, but if there is too much wind the boat may capsize. Tension in a relationship is an indicator of health and insures that both individuals are expressing their needs and differences.
- Make I statements and talk about your feelings
- Make rules for communicating with each other
- Don't hit below the belt and avoid attacking behaviors
- Be aware of your listening and speaking role
- Try to understand what the situation is like from your partner's position
- Practice Active Listening
- Listen for the underlying need which is not being addressed
- Don't complicate the problem by adding other issues
- Focus on the present and avoid bringing up the past
Understand that some issues can not be resolved