One way to undercut a relationship is by not managing conflict effectively.
And that will usually occur one of two ways:
Either you are afraid of conflict, and avoid it, or your methods of managing conflict render you more like a bull in a china shop than like a loving partner. Both methods may be due to FEAR of conflict.
But here is how you change that: Redefine fear of conflict as fear of fighting. In other words, conflict and fighting are two separate entities.
Here is exactly how to do that.
First, define conflict as a difference, and view the difference as a neutral entity.
Second, think about what exactly it is you fear–it probably has to do with fighting, and all the bad behavior that historically has been part of how conflict may have been managed in your family of origin, which you now, at times, manifest in your relationship with your partner.
Next, define the problem as fear of fighting. Now you have the opportunity to manage conflict with out fighting.
This is the first step in the process of working your way out of being afraid of conflict.
Let’s take a look at a real life example of this in action:
Your partner calls you a name, or says something that you interpret as a put down. In the past perhaps you “didn’t want to make a fuss,” because he/she might get really angry and loud. In order to avoid “angry and loud,” you said nothing.
Now, however, you’re unwilling to continue to avoid, so you say the following: “Ouch, that comment you just made did not feel very good, and here’s why: I experience it as diminishing. Please tell me again what is is you really want me hear that let’s me truly understand what is bothering you.”
Doing that may feel risky, but the rewards are generally with that risk.
My next video will show the next step to take in becoming more comfortable with conflict, and how to manage it more effectively.
Wishing you a less conflict avoiding relationship,
Jim Hutt, Ph.D., MFT