Differences of opinion will always be part of relationships.
While many people break up because of differences – many conflicts can be resolved. It boils down to both people honestly wanting to resolve the conflict and not just get their own way.
In fact, the relationships that last are those where they’ve learned how to argue and settle differences in a way that honors both partners’ needs.
Here is a 10 Step process that resolves conflicts by recognizing that successful relationships run through a series of compromises by both individuals.
1. Let go of the idea of “getting your way.”
There is no such thing in a successful relationship. Each person has their own feelings and needs that must be honored if the relationship is going to last.
2. All relationships have conflict.
Often we make the mistake of thinking that our relationships should be conflict-free. This is not true, and completely unrealistic. In fact, successful relationships are those where the partners have learned to communicate in a way that moves them through the conflict to a place of better understanding and deeper connection.
I talk about this in my book, “How To Talk To A Man” where I provide tools and tips and scripts for navigating and even avoiding conflict, when possible.
3. Acknowledge the conflict.
Recognize that there is a conflict and that resolving it together will make your relationship better.
4. Listen carefully.
Each of you has something to say and an opinion. Each of you deserve the respect of having a partner that wants to listen and wants to understand.
5. Set a time when you will get back together to try to resolve the problem.
Very often conflict happens at an inopportune moment – you’re headed out to dinner with friends, company is coming over, someone needs to leave for work. It’s important to prioritize the meeting to resolve the issue and then make sure you show up for it.
Ignoring a relationship conflict is like ignoring a toothache – it’s only going to get worse.
6. Examine your role in the problem.
Define it so you understand what you think the problem is.
And then define it from the point of view of your partner.
Which of your behaviors adds to the problem? Accept responsibility for your role in producing or keeping the problem going.
7. Identify behaviors that each of you can change.
Think of as many different solutions as you can. The more possible solutions and behavior changes you can think of, the greater the chance of finding those that will solve the problem.
And then talk about what to do if the same problem comes up again. We know that relationship issues pop up over and over again… so be easy on each other, and acknowledge that it might take more than one try to fix it.
8. Be ready to negotiate solutions in your relationships.
Keep the discussion open and going until you both agree on which solution to try. This solution should include behavior changes that each of you should make and a potential timetable for making them.
9. Implement your new behaviors.
Make a note for yourself if you need the reminders. Putting specific structures in place that will reinforce new behaviors will make changing behaviors that much easier.
10. Meet again to discuss what has worked and what hasn’t.
For those things that haven’t worked, go back to your list of possible solutions and pick a new one to try. Resolve to keep meeting and trying new behaviors until the problem is solved.
Set a Date to Discuss How Well this Solution Is Working
Use this technique for resolving any relationship problem you have. It will work as long as each party is willing to accept responsibility for their own part and are willing to try new behaviors until the successful changes are found.
Jeffrey Levine is a corporate coach and trained mediator (and Rori Raye’s husband) who works with both men and women to improve their communication, deepen their connection and remove the blocks that keep them from feeling and expressing love. He is the author of “How To Talk To A Man”, which contains invaluable advice, tools and solutions to help you avoid common relationship pitfalls, and clean things up when they go south. “Every moment presents a new choice for you: a decision about what you want – and what you believe you deserve.”