In an ideal world, what would you choose for your relationship… conflict resolution or conflict management?
I feel like America throws “resolution” into the ring and binges on popcorn and coke while watching it get beat like a dead horse. We push and push for something that just doesn’t or can’t always happen. In all reality, I actually think we avoid conflict. But when we are knee deep, we do long for resolution.
In our home, I may never get used to John’s sudden sense of urgency over something extremely random and I can assure you that he is a bit over rescuing me from lost keys. But these things are not going to change so why fight about them over and over, seeking complete extinction of behaviors we don’t like in the other? We’ve recognized that while some things can be resolved, others are simply best to just manage.
I think we tend to get our panties in a wad on this resolution thing. Granted, random senses of urgency and lost keys are small fruit compared to the big guns but the point is that we get so worked up over conflict that we can’t just walk through it. One party demands it never happen again and the other just shuts down. So inevitably, it does happen again and the separation of thought grows with deeper darkness each time.
There are some important things to consider here. Just so we are clear, I’m not encouraging anyone to walk through an unsafe storm. Being mistreated is grounds for deeper conversation. I’m talking “every day”, “don’t even know what we are yelling about”, “you didn’t fold the laundry and now it’s wrinkled” kind of distractions that drag us down. With that in mind, what do we do with the mess of it? There are a few options but we will focus on these:
1. Decide if it’s a battle worth picking. If not, then call a spade a spade, remind each other you’re ultimately on the same team and take a “time-out” to cool off. If yes, go to step two.
2. Here, in step two, you get to talk about it after cooling off.
When discussing, focus on the emotion, not the action. The action is likely less of an issue than the feeling it sparks. For me, I can feel disrespected by things based on a root issue. An action can trigger an issue and I'll go into a confusing frenzy because really, what he did wasn't all that big of a deal.
If it’s true that opposites attract, we will always find things to disagree about and that is okay. With our differences comes opportunity for growth and learning about things beyond our own perspective. Find the good in your differences and lean into conflict. Don’t be scared to disagree. We are so much healthier when we just simply agree to disagree. Sure, there are things that really need a team consensus. But if at the end of the day, the topic doesn’t impact the bigger picture, let it go.
Sometimes, the best way to salvage a bad day is to manage the moment rather than pushing to solve the world's problems.