How to Handle Conflict With Your Spouse

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One of my editors asked me to write an article about handling the conflict that naturally arises during a marriage.  Arguments happen – that doesn’t mean that a relationship isn’t working.  In fact, learning to work through conflict with your spouse actually helps you learn to cope with frustration and disappointment in other areas of your life.  So that silly argument about the dishes that never get done the other day?  That can actually help you out.  Go ahead, air your dirty laundry when you need to – it’s for the greater good.

The problem with conflict, however, is dealing with it when one or both partners rely on maladaptive coping strategies.  There are right and wrong ways to handle a conflict, and if you haven’t practiced adaptive coping strategies, chances are you will get stuck in a negative loop that leads to increased anger and resentment.  That’s not good for a marriage (or a friendship or a sibling relationship…)

While my editor asked me to write about couples, I do believe that most of the information applies to any number of relationships – friends, siblings, parents, relatives…we all have ups and downs along the way.  How we choose to handle those obstacles, however, can make or break a relationship.

When people end up in my office to work through conflict and frustration, I always ask them two questions:  What is your role in the conflict and what are your go-to coping styles?  The truth is that even if something is 99% the fault of the other person, there’s still that 1% waiting to be claimed.  You can’t change other people, but you can grab your 1% and find healthy alternatives.

Adults tend to establish patterns when it comes to relating to others.  Even if a go-t0 strategy isn’t working, they might continue to use it because it’s become second nature.  It’s important to take the time to evaluate your communication style and coping strategies and find ways to make improvements.  No one is perfect, after all.

There are a few red zones to look for when it comes to maladaptive coping strategies.

  • Do you rely on the silent treatment when angry?
  • Do you look for areas of weakness to bring the other person down?
  • Do you play the blame game?
  • Do you involve third parties to find support?

If any of these sound familiar, please head over to SafeBee and check out 4 Ways to Argue More Fairly.  The article includes reasons behind the maladaptive strategies and tips for breaking negative patterns of communication.

Communication is essential to a healthy relationship.  You might not be able to changes others, but you can always make changes that benefit the relationships that mean the most to you.  Enjoy!

Old Love is Better

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“I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles

And the heavens open every time she smiles”

-Van Morrison

Young love is exciting, fun, and full of adventure.  Young love is new, fresh, and full of flirtation.  Young love…is where it all begins.

But old love?  Old love is strong, comforting, and full of admiration and respect.  Old love is togetherness, survival, and family.  Old love…makes the world a better place.

Please stop by moonfrye to read about old love and the comfort of knowing that you’ll cross the finish line together.

For Sean…who understands the power of old love.

Practical Moms Feature: These Little Waves

Today, I get to share a friend with you.  She’s brilliant, talented, supportive, and kind.  She is there when you need her, and even when you think you don’t.  Her words will draw you in and make you feel at home.  Truly, she needs no introduction.  Please…enjoy her words here, but then visit her there…because Galit Breen is someone you need to get to know.

***

I make my way downstairs, by feel, and by dark.

Each first breath and morning stretch and slipper step is much too loud for this early quiet.

Above, I hear Jason get ready for his own day. His suit and tie a sharp line to the fuzziness that I now know best.

Outside, dark is just giving in to light. The sky’s smoky blues and shocking reds peek through blackened trees.

A neighbor brightens a single light. It shines alone, and seeps into my kitchen.

For a moment, I pause, splay my fingers onto the counter, and wonder why she’s up so early.

My Mind Pencil starts weaving her details quickly, filling in -sketching, even- what I don’t know.

I force myself to look away, busy my hands in my own kitchen, focus on my own story.

Jason’s steps gentle toward me, he is as careful as I am. It’s my birthday, and we want to start the day just the two of us.

And we do.

We sit knee to knee, share coffee steam and croissant sweetness, our elbows grazing, our voices murmuring.

On this day of new and fresh and begin, we’re focusing within.

And while the rest of my day will be loud and messy and more about my children than me, this is the perfect start.

***

Some gems are bold, bright, easily grasped.

The sweetest of belly laughs, the warmest of laced fingers, the strongest of wrapped arms.

And when we slow down and bite back “Be carefuls” and “Not nows,” they’re there.

But others, need to be carved out.

And that’s exactly what this moment was.

A chance to connect and charge, better at each of our days for having started it enveloped within a single light, alone in the dark.

When Jason and I got married, a friend gave us a card that read, “The best thing a  father can do for his children, is love their mother.”

We used to feel and do and be this so easily.

But a decade and three children and several careers and a house and chores and so very many responsibilities later, these gifts are more often planned, than not.

(They mean just as much this way.)

***

Kayli and Chloe and Brody make their way downstairs as Jason slips out the door; our days officially Different for the next twelve hours.

They’re sleepy eyed and pink cheeked and an absolute blend of the two of us.

I clear Jason’s and my dishes away, swap them for the kids’ Birthday Breakfast.

“Did you already eat?” Kayli asks. Lips pursed, fingers splayed onto the counter, just as mine were moments before.
“I did,” I answer, sliding breakfast her way, matching her stance. “With Daddy.”
I tell them because I want them to know about our focus within, the value of quiet, and that the reason that I’m fully present with them now, is because of the gift of our start.

Stolen Moments

Sometimes all it takes is a glance.  A small moment of recognition between us, the us that started it all, amidst the chaos.  A moment that says it all…

I love you more now than ever.

I appreciate you.

I couldn’t do any of this without you.

I need you more now than ever.

These moments can be fleeting at times.

We hear the sounds of little feet making their way toward us early each morning.  Sometimes earlier than expected.  Sometimes earlier than seems possible.

We hear the chit chat through the monitor that will soon turn to calls of readiness.

We have just a moment to open our eyes, whisper good morning, and snuggle up tight before big sister arrives to flop between us.  We have just a few minutes more to soak in the quiet before baby brother calls out for a rescue.

“I’m ready”, we hear over the music softly filtering through his monitor.  “I’m ready to come out.”

And in that instant, the day becomes another day…

Please stop by moonfrye to continue reading “Stolen Moments”.