Home Sweet Home: Conflict Resolution in the Face of Change

Change can be difficult for even the strongest relationships. It’s easy to point to negative changes, such as unexpected job loss or money issues, and understand why that might put stress on a relationship. What some may fail to understand is that even positive changes can be difficult and stressful and just as potentially damaging to a relationship as a negative one. Building a home is one of the most exciting things that a couple can do together. However, it can be difficult to remember that several months into the project, with no end in sight, you find yourself fighting over kitchen cabinets.

Take a deep breath, step back from the situation, and take this information into consideration when the next conflict arises. When you have moved into your new home and are going about your day-to-day activities, how you got here will seem like a distant memory. Time heals wounds. There were a few challenges, but you made it.

Don’t lose sight of the big picture

Even when your partner is driving you insane over every little detail and you feel like you want to tear your hair out, it’s important to remember to breathe. You and your partner want the same thing. You are a team, not enemies. When the little details threaten to pull you under, it’s important that you both step back and look at the big picture. Will the fixtures on the kitchen cabinets really matter that much to you in a year?

Compromise is so important

Fairness and equality are important in any relationship and this is accomplished in many ways. Chief among them, though, is a compromise. When a conflict arises, it’s important to ask why. There are certain things that are more important to one person than the other. Talk to one another and figure out what things are the most important and what things you feel comfortable compromising on. Sometimes compromise might mean finding creative, out of the box solutions that you hadn’t considered before, like barn doors with a special kind of barn door lock.

Celebrate the victories

Instead of focusing on the negative, celebrate the good things that happen! Always fixating on the things that go wrong can really negatively impact a person’s mental health. This will up the anxiety and tension in a relationship until it reaches a boiling point. Cut this thinking off at the root. Instead, look for reasons to celebrate. Practicing mindful, positive thinking can be a huge benefit during any stressful situation. Allow yourself the smaller victories so you and your partner can face the war together.

Keep your cool but be honest

One of the worst things that a couple can do is to try to resolve a situation when emotions are still high. Acting in anger is sure to make anyone say things they don’t mean and make the situation worse. Whether a person is acting aggressively or defensively, a reasonable discussion cannot take place until both parties are calm and thinking clearly. Establish open communication with your partner and be honest with one another. If either of you is feeling upset, then step away from the conversation.

The opposite is also true. Staying quiet to avoid conflict is also a bad way to go. This doesn’t make the problem go away and will only make the eventual blow up even worse. So even if the conversation is difficult, it is better to get your concerns out into the open and dealt with at the time rather than waiting.

Don’t fight to win

Once a fight starts, too many people get into the mindset of “winning” the fight rather than resolving the conflict. A fight isn’t something that anyone can win. The goal of a conflict should always be to be resolved in a way that makes everyone satisfied. To do this, you have to learn some basic rules of conflict resolution: admitting when you’re wrong, apologizing, honesty, forgiveness, and being open to change. A relationship isn’t about one person, it’s about two people working as a team. The team wins together or they lose together.

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