Conflict Avoidance: Is Your Rug Touching the Ceiling?
All couples argue. Not having arguments is unrealistic, but a desire for conflict avoidance is very typical. We’re going to have bad days, be tired, irritable, stressed out, and so will our partner. Whenever there is more than one person in the room, there will be differences in opinions. Talking less about the issues in the relationship makes things worse and creates even more relationship uncertainty. While avoiding an unpleasant conversation may seem caring or alleviate immediate anxiety, it can also be a sign of insecurity in ourselves and in the relationship. One of the mistakes partners make is believing that they will make waves or ruffle feathers by addressing the pain, hurt, or even irritation. The anti-argument, no-conflict-approach, does more harm than good.
When you feel slighted, either in big or small ways, how do you address the issues? Do you call out your partner’s tone that has teeth to it or a hurtful word or behavior or do you sweep it under the rug? If you find yourself becoming uncomfortable just by reading this list or becoming intimidated, this is a sign that you should probably talk about these conversations with your partner. Relationship uncertainty causes us to question everything in our relationship and even how we communicate. If you find yourself being assertive and sure in your decision-making abilities at work but unable to express your needs in your relationship, I encourage you to explore what is keeping you from being able to express yourself in your romantic relationship.
What are the benefits of addressing hot topics? One benefit of talking through the hard topic is that tough conversations improve our relationship and helps it to grow. Another benefit is that talking about conflictual issues improves our communication and can help us better our understanding of one another. Where do the issues go that are not being addressed? Unresolved issues go somewhere. They do not magically disappear. They grow and intensify. These items swept under the rug causes the rug to touch the ceiling. Letting things go enables animosity to build, making conflict avoidance a bad gamble. If you find yourself in a hard conversation with your partner and things seem to be going sideways, here are a few fighting fairly techniques to try:
- Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Would your partner deliberately try to hurt or sabotage you? If the answer is ‘no’, then get curious about your partner’s words and behaviors to understand him/her and get clarity.
- Reflect feelings with your partner. Practice empathy. Listen to the words your partner is saying as well as the emotion behind the words.
- Make Eye Contact. Put your phone down and turn the television off.
Source: Stronger Than You Think: The 10 Blind Spots That Undermine Your Relationship…and How to See Past Them. By Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr., PhD.
*This blog is intended to discuss healthy conflict resolution and does not include any forms of physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual violence or abuse as a way of dealing with conflict.
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