By Morgana S. Rae
Relationship conflicts can be a creative force. Conflict occurs in healthy, dynamic partnerships: it’s like the growing pains of the relationship. (Do you remember how much your muscles ached when your body was growing? The discomfort of conflict could be the relationship’s way of making room for where it wants to grow next.)
Differences aren’t a death sentence. What’s more important than getting rid of conflict is managing relationship conflicts. That’s where a coach can help by creating a safe space for working together, not on who is wrong but on what is possible, what is wanted, what is emerging.
How you are going to be together in the face of this conflict is almost always more important than the conflict itself. According to the research of John Gottman PhD, 69% of all marital issues are perpetual.
This is as true in the happiest of marriages as it is in the unhappiest. The place to focus your attention is not on eliminating conflicts but on how you relate in the face of your differences. This, according to Gottman’s research, is what distinguished the relationships that stayed together from those that parted.
Here’s what John Gottman recommends:
1) Increase overall positivity, say a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. These interactions don’t have to be big deals. Just a “hi” or a peck on the cheek or sharing the newspaper…
2) Increase positivity in conflict. Affectionate humor, soothing the other, bringing up complaints slowly and with respect instead of erupting…
3) Decrease negativity in conflict, especially Blaming, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling–what Gottman calls the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.” When you find yourself flooded in emotions like rage or panic, take a time out.
Here’s a hint on how to tell whether you are falling into one of these horsemen behaviors: if you see your partner taking on one of these horsemen stances, you probably are too! They almost always travel in pairs. One person blames, the other person is defensive or stonewalls.
You get the picture? When you discover this happening, cop to your own behavior. If you can’t do that, at least take a time out.
Triple A Relationship Rescue Formula
My program to promote healthy, collaborative, positive relationship focuses on these three skills:
Appreciation Loops. Nothing raises and maintains positivity better. The more you express what you appreciate about each other, the more the relationship will give you things worthy of appreciation.
Alignment. Find the common ground, work as a team, even on the conflict itself. This is where a trained coach can help you get a new perspective.
Agreement. Design the relationship and build trust throughout the process.
A relationship is a growing and dynamic entity, constantly stretching into unknown territory. That’s why you never get it “right.” Your relationship is always shifting, like a liquid, to fill all the spaces of possibility.
Morgana Rae, a master results coach and creator of the Financial Alchemy Method, is president of Charmed Life Coaching, a successful life and business coaching company that guides clients to attract more than they chase, to market creatively and inexpensively, and to enjoy success without sacrificing their humanity. A leading expert on wealth manifestation, Morgana is a popular speaker and frequent television and radio guest. Morgana is the author of Financial Alchemy: 12 Months of Magic and Manifestation, and she is a contributing author to the books Inspiration to Realization, and Get Rich-The Woman’s E-Guide to Creating Wealth, and her articles have been published in magazines worldwide. Visit her site on how to have a great relationship with money and be a Money Magnet