Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program


What are her and his assumptions?
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Mastering the Challenges of Conflict, Session 2 16 2004
SESSION PREPARATION: To prepare to teach the session, make copies of Emotional
Bank Account, Handout 1. Prepare the It’s Fred’s Fault, Session Materials 1, and
Constructive Griping, Session Materials 2. Review “I” Statement Summary, Background
Information 1, the PowerPoint slides, and session outline.
Participants will:
1 Recognize that conflict is a natural aspect
of interpersonal relationships.
1 Identify behaviors that reinforce and
accelerate the cycle of conflict.
1 Develop strategies to break the cycle of
conflict and increase the quality of
1 Conflict often occurs when individual’s
values, expectations or assumptions clash.
1 Conflict is inevitable and does not predict
relationship break-up.
1 Individuals in close relationships develop
patterns of behavior to handle conflict.
1 Strategies can be learned to strengthen
one’s relationship and prevent the negative
outcomes of poorly handled conflict.
Connecting Families:
Mastering the
Challenges of Conflict
Session 2
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Mastering the Challenges of Conflict, Session 2 17 2004
Mastering the Challenge of Conflict
Connecting Families
Session 2
1. Welcome group participants and introduce
the session. Mastering the challenge of
conflict in a relationship begins by
recognizing that conflict is an inevitable
aspect of all relationships. Ask group
members to introduce themselves and
guess what the most frequent trigger of
conflict in marriage is. After everyone has
spoken, summarize the suggested triggers.
Research tells us that money and children
are the issues about which couples most
frequently disagree. But no matter what a
couple disagrees about, the key is to have
the skills and strategies to resolve conflict
which contributes to building a
Conflict Boils Over When:
¡ Unaware of each other’s values,
expectations and assumptions
¡ Unreasonable expectations exist
¡ Issues of concern are not verbalized
or ignored
2. Use Slide 2 to describe how conflict
operates in relationships. When two
individuals see life differently and expect
different things for their life and their
relationship, a conflict situation is set up.
Much like a pot of boiling soup, when the
fire gets too hot, it boils over. So do
relationships when too many unresolved
issues are ignored or tolerated. The pot
begins to simmer and eventually boils. In
marriage, the relationship pot boils over
when the two individuals are not aware of
their own and their partner’s values,
expectations, and assumptions. Conflict
occurs when one of the individuals is being
unreasonable in their expectations and is
not willing to openly talk about what they
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Mastering the Challenges of Conflict, Session 2 18 2004
Men vs. Women in Conflict Situations
¡ Withdraw
¡ Become nonverbal
¡ Uncomfortable
expressing feelings
¡ Push to have their
issues voiced
¡ Highly verbal
¡ Openly express
their feelings

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