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Fight Fairly with These Positive Conflict Management Strategies

a man and woman holding hands

Conflict is an inevitability in every relationship, but it's not the end of your love story when you use positive conflict management strategies!

As a Couples Conflict Resolution Coach, I've seen firsthand how conflict can erode a relationship, destroy trust, and cause couples to drift apart. BUT I've also seen how conflict can be a tool capable of fortifying connections and deepening intimacy. Believe it or not, it can be the secret sauce that makes your relationship even more solid. Crazy, right?

The Stages of Conflict

Let's break down the nitty-gritty of fights – we all have them! No matter how it starts, every conflict flows through the three stages of conflict: pre-conflict, the actual clash, and the aftermath, AKA post-conflict.

Pre-conflict is the build-up to a fight. Emotions start bubbling under the surface, and you're hashing out your side of the story – whether it's the real deal or a bit of fiction.

Then you and your partner move into the conflict stage. Ideally, you're both calm, cool, and collected. You've taken the time to answer a few pre-conflict questions to reflect on why you're really upset.

But let's be honest, we don't live in an ideal world. Sometimes it's more like emotions cranked up to eleven. Things can get heated.

Post-conflict is the calm after the storm. This is the time to come back together with your partner, heal, and reestablish that connection. This is where you can deepen your connection!

Today I'm sharing four strategies that will help you fight fairly when you're knee-deep in the conflict trenches.

Positive Conflict Management Strategies To Use To Fight Fair

In the heat of the moment, it's like our words have a mind of their own, and it's easy to let something hurtful slip out. But here's the deal: by using even just one or two of the strategies below, you and your partner can dodge those verbal bullets and end the conflict as ALLIES instead of adversaries.

Use "I" Statements and Avoid Blame

When things get tense, try using "I" statements to share how you feel instead of pointing fingers or throwing accusations. So, instead of saying, "You always do this," try something like, "I feel hurt when..." When you use "I" statements, you're putting your emotions out there without making your partner feel attacked or defensive. This small change can help create a safe space where both of you feel listened to and valued.

Establish Conflict Protocols

When emotions run high, it's super important to know what is acceptable and unacceptable when you're fighting with your partner. Setting up some conflict ground rules, or as I like to call them, "conflict protocols," can give you a roadmap to follow when you're handling disagreements. These can be simple, like deciding on a time limit for arguments or agreeing to take a walk together after a spat.

Prioritizing Your Partner's Experience Over the Facts

When you're in the middle of a disagreement with your partner, it's not just about who's right and who's wrong. It's about tuning into each other's feelings and experiences. Instead of sticking strictly to the facts, try focusing on how each of you is feeling. When you do this, it's like flipping a switch – suddenly, it's not about winning the argument; it's about understanding each other better. And that's what makes relationships tick!

Stay on the topic at hand

One thing that I see all the time with the couples that I work with is fights spiraling way off the original topic. Instead of going down that rabbit hole, acknowledge the new topic and agree to dive into it later. You can jot it down on a piece of paper or on your phone if you're likely to forget! This keeps your main discussion on track and shows your partner that you respect their thoughts and feelings. You can say, "I hear you, and we'll get to that, but let's stay focused for now." This way, you're focused on resolving one conflict, instead of the eight different fights that aren't related. Cool, huh?

All of these positive conflict management strategies will help you navigate conflict with your partner in a way that is HEALING rather than hurtful. Remember, conflicts aren't the end of the world – they're opportunities to get closer and strengthen your bond.

If you're feeling totally lost navigating the choppy seas of conflict, I've got your back! I offer one-on-one coaching sessions where I'll guide you and your partner through the whole shebang. Together, we'll turn those conflicts into chances for growth and deeper connection. Book a discovery call to see if we're a good fit. 

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