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Because conflict is virtually inevitable in relationships (and not necessarily a sign of trouble), you can reduce a significant amount of stress and strengthen your relationships at the same time if you build the knowledge and skills to handle conflict in a healthy way.
Destructive attitudes and communication patterns like being deffensive, overgeneralizing, mind-reading, not listening, stonewalling can exacerbate conflict in a relationship.
Rather than discussing in a calm, respectful manner, some people just don't say anything to their partner until they're ready to explode, and then blurt it out in an angry, hurtful way. This seems to be the less stressful route — avoiding an argument altogether — but usually causes more stress to both parties as tensions rise, resentments fester, and a much bigger argument eventually results.
Rather than addressing a partner's complaints with willingness to understand the other person's point of view, defensive people deny any wrongdoing and avoid looking at the possibility that they could be contributing to a problem.
Denying responsibility may seem to alleviate stress in the short run, but creates long-term problems when partners don't feel listened to and unresolved conflicts and continue to grow.
When something happens that they don’t like, some blow it out of proportion by making sweeping generalizations. Avoid starting sentences with, "You always," and, "You never," as in, "You always come home late!" or, "You never do what I want to do!" Stop and think about whether or not this is really true.
Also, don't bring up past conflicts to throw the discussion off-topic and stir up more negativity. This stands in the way of true conflict resolution and increases the level of conflict.
It's damaging to decide that there's a "right" way to look at things and a "wrong" way to look at things and that your way of seeing things is right.
Don't demand that your partner see things the same way, and don't take it as a personal attack if they have a different opinion.
Look for a compromise or agreeing to disagree, and remember that there's not always a "right" or a "wrong," and that two points of view can both be valid.
Instead of asking about their partner's thoughts and feelings, people sometimes decide that they "know" what their partners are thinking and feeling based only on faulty interpretations of their actions — and always assume it's negative!
It's important to keep in mind that we all come from a unique perspective, and work hard to assume nothing; really listen to the other person and let them explain where they are coming from.
Some people interrupt, roll their eyes, and rehearse what they're going to say next instead of truly listening and attempting to understand their partner. This keeps you from seeing their point of view, and keeps your partner from wanting to see yours!
Don't underestimate the importance of really listening and empathizing with the other person!
Some people handle conflict by criticizing and blaming the other person for the situation. They see admitting any weakness on their own part as a weakening of their credibility, and avoid it at all costs, and even try to shame them for being "at fault."
Instead, try to view conflict as an opportunity to analyze the situation objectively, assess the needs of both parties and come up with a solution that helps you both.
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