Learn How to End Recurring Conflicts in Your Relationships

Learn How to End Recurring Conflicts in Your RelationshipsWhen you’re in the middle of an argument or power struggle, conflict resolution is often counter-intuitive – what you should do is often the exact OPPOSITE of what you feel the most compelled to do in the moment.

The good news is, there are specific skills you can learn to dismantle arguments and help overcome power struggles in your relationships.

Instead of repeating old destructive relationship patterns, you can learn how to end recurring conflict so that the trust is restored between the two of you – so you can safely connect with each other in a way that brings you CLOSER.

These Conscious Communication Skills work in ALL of your relationships in your life, not just in romantic relationships. Here’s the first one:

Ask Vs. Tell

Unless your intent is starting a fight, when you’re sharing something with your partner, it’s best to stay away from any kind of communication that TELLS them what to do or how to be.

For example, it’s best to remove any statement starting with “you should…” from your vocabulary, because it often comes across as a covert attack. Even if you don’t mean it that way or you’re just trying to be helpful, it immediately puts your partner in the defensive mode.

Instead, try asking questions that begin with “how” or “what.” Asking “how” or “what” questions can completely change the tone of a conversation. This works in all communication.

Rather than saying, “You should really do __________…” try, “How can I support you in getting this done?” or “What can we do to fix this?”

The first statement is likely to get a defensive response, while the second two statements come across as supporting, as though you’re facing the problem as a team.

You’ll want to steer away from “why” questions as well – because unless you’re genuinely interested, they can cause your partner to feel interrogated.

Questions such as, “Why haven’t you washed the dishes yet?” or “Why aren’t you ready to leave yet?” can also lead to defensiveness, and what you want to do is remove that defensiveness.

If you want to discover the true motivation behind your partner’s words, actions, or feelings – instead of asking, “Why are you feeling that way?” try something like, “Would you be willing to share with me why you’re feeling that way?” Instead of causing your partner to become defensive, you’re now working WITH them.

Own vs. Divert

When we’re feeling defensive, we tend to want to divert blame away from ourselves, and often onto our partner. Even if we’re in the wrong, we can still do this because our brains are hardwired to want to be “right.”

When we’re diverting the blame, we often use sentences starting with “you.” This is the verbal equivalent of pointing the blame directly at the other person.

Statements such as, “You drive me crazy” or “You make me so angry when you do that” will cause your partner to immediately go on the defensive.

The way to stop diverting is to start connecting with and OWNING your experience. Instead of saying, “You make me so angry when you do that” – try simply saying, “I feel angry right now.”

When you take responsibility for what you’re experiencing in the moment, you can get the same message across without making your partner responsible for your feelings.

It may sound simple, but this is one of the most challenging communication skills for people to learn – it’s counter-intuitive to the way that our brains are wired.

When you take the time to get in touch with what you’re feeling and share your experience in the moment, your partner can actually HEAR you and will be much less likely to get defensive. This is essential to opening the lines of communication.

And Vs. But

“But” is a powerful word. When you say the word “but” – you basically negate everything you said right before it.

For example, when you say things like, “I love you but I need some time to myself right now” what your partner actually hears is, “I don’t really love you.”

“I love you AND I need some time to myself right now” is much softer, and it doesn’t negate the fact that you love them.

These skills take some practice, and they can really change your relationship and your life when you learn how to use them correctly!



How to Be Happy in a Marriage When Your Spouse Refuses to Give up Control

Spouse refuses to give up controlMarried couples, not infrequently, are faced with this challenging dynamic, where one partner is controlling in the relationship and has an investment in keeping control. This could be over finances, lifestyle issues and even sex. With men, this can take the form of bullying their wives emotionally and worse case physically. For controlling women, the outcome is often control over the kids, money and even the bedroom.

Most often, controlling tendencies come from a person’s unique, personal history. In other words, they bring this personality into the marriage – rather than the marriage being responsible for creating a controlling spouse. Past hurts, especially developmentally, go a long ways to create anxiety and the need to not be hurt again.

Controlling behaviors often come from a position of insecurity. The fear behind this is losing control over their world and ultimately, being hurt in the process. Coming from a wounded childhood where little control was given over as a child, means controlling behaviors become a way to cope and survive. If no one is going to meet my needs, I’ll make sure I get them met. And instead of being vulnerable in the marriage, I’ll insure I don’t get hurt and will keep things in order so I’m not at risk.

So the question becomes for the non-controlling spouse, how do I maintain my own happiness – knowing I can’t change my spouse and that even trying to change my spouse, would threaten him or her and lead to more efforts to control and manage the relationship? Happiness isn’t a cheap commodity so this is a tall question but critical one.

First and foremost, stay out of the control-response loop. Just because someone is trying to manage your behaviors and feelings, doesn’t mean you bend and give in to the pressure. So maintaining your individuality becomes critical.

Remember, the controlling spouse ultimately wants to limit your individuality as a person and in ways that don’t conform to his or her vision of who is in charge. They falsely believe this is an antidote to insecurity. Your individuality can be threatening to their feeling of security. But it’s vital you don’t surrender your growth because of his or her fear. As we go through life, we all need to prioritize our potential and uniqueness to be whole people. This brings satisfaction and certainly happiness at some level.

Second, don’t try to become controlling as a counterpoint to your spouse’s actions. The answer isn’t to “fight fire with fire.” This only makes things worse. Instead, manage your own life. Fill it with positives and the lifestyle you want. It is important to do this in ways that don’t threaten your mate – you don’t want to trigger their need for control if they feel you are exiting the marriage. Be firm about your individual interests but also invite him or her in to your life. Teach them they don’t need to control you to have you in their world. But don’t forget to honor and reinforce positive behaviors from them when they demonstrate non-controlling efforts to connect. And if you catch them being vulnerable, don’t forget to be there for them and try to bond with them at that level.

Third, set clear boundaries about what’s OK and what’s not. Being able to tell him or her “That doesn’t work for me – can we try another way?” is helpful if done in kind and caring ways. They may not respond but you’ve done your part in speaking clearly about what is and isn’t acceptable and you’ve been positive about wanting to staying connected as a couple.

Fourth, find legitimate sources of support that bring positive connection and help fill you up. A close friend can be instrumental in sustaining your evenness and being with you in caring ways that allow you to feel close and valued.

Finally, develop a powerful voice in your personal life and with your partner. Find positive ways to talk with your spouse about what you want in the relationship. Be clear and assertive, while supportive of what he or she wants. Developing a vision about closeness and intimacy may relieve the anxiety a controlling spouse lives with about whether their needs will truly get met or not. Remember, the controlling spouse is scared – afraid their wants don’t matter and so they must manage behaviors to reach that outcome. Doing an end run around the panic and fear means talking about connection in a way that consoles and also allows you to talk about what you want.

One caveat. A controlling spouse may be an abusive one – even physically. If this is the case, seek professional help immediately.

Remember, we create happiness. It doesn’t just happen. You are the author of your life and so it becomes essential that a controlling partner doesn’t take away your effort to build a happy and successful journey.



Un-Happy Valentine’s Day?

Single on Valentines Day

For the seemingly few who are in healthy, happy relationships Valentine’s Day can provide romantic inspiration. But for everyone else it can be an annoying reminder that they don’t have that kind of loving bliss. If you are finding yourself fru … [Continue reading]