Conflict Management Strategies for Couples

Page Highlights: conflict management principles you can print out and keep at hand while you work through other exercises

Before beginning any premarital preparation work, it’s a good idea to spend some time learning some basic communication skills for conflict management.

Principles for Effective Marriage Communication

1. Just know that communication takes time.

Commit to take the time now & throughout your marriage to communicate. It is the lifeblood of your relationship.

If you don’t find that you doing it naturally on a regular basis, then schedule just like you would a vacation.

A lack of communication in relationships is often the reason given by couples for a decline in their marriage. Don’t let it happen to you.

2. Truly listen to each other, without judgment.

Test your understanding by repeating back in your own words what you hear your partner say. This is a simple technique that professional counselors sometimes use to make certain couples are listening and understanding each other.

3. Honestly express your thoughts & feelings to your partner.

On the other side, be ready to accept what your partner says. That’s different from agreeing, but it’s vital that couples accept each others thoughts – otherwise the one that is not accepted may shut down. Not a good thing for the long term.

4. Remember that every relationship has conflicts.

To start with as John Gray’s book title suggests men are from Mars and women are from Venus!  So…

When you have a conflict:

  • Deal with it. Often resolving differences is a process over a period of time. But unresolved issues do not go away. Resentments can build over the years.
  • Control your anger. Anger & other defensive tactics shut off communication. You may need to take a walk & delay discussing something. But do come back to it.
  • Clearly define the problem. Specify how each of you may contribute to the problem or the difficulty in resolving the issue.
  • Brainstorm possible solutions. Decide, and if necessary, negotiate a mutually agreeable  solution. Then put it to the test.
  • Stay committed. In most cases, people can resolve their differences. When you do, it will give you confidence that problems don’t have to defeat you. Your relationship will be stronger & you will feel more secure in it.
  • Seek outside help if needed. If you hit a snag, sometimes having a third party to give feedback and direction can be helpful. Contact a minister or other trained helper for guidance. You may find communication skills workshops and even more intense offerings on how to resolve conflict in marriages offered by churches or from other community services. There are deeper emotional issues that can require professional therapy.

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5 comments to Conflict Management Strategies for Couples

  • JoAnna & Dan

    We think that these strategies have been key to our relationships success. We have found that when we don’t communicate our feelings and issues with each other that it takes much longer to resolve problems that we encounter.

    We have always tried to communicate honestly without resorting to insulting the other person because that just makes the situation more tense. We truly believe that honesty is ALWAYS the best policy.

  • lacey Emmons and Justin Cox

    This information is wonderful I liked the 5 tips at the end the best with “staying committed” being my most favorite tip becuase I like the reassurance that it brings after the problems has been resolved.

  • Richard and Sarah

    Having a long distance relationship for several years, Richard and I have always had to put a high value on communication, honesty, and trust. When problems arise, we try to discuss them a calmly and rationally as possible. We also recognize that one or both of us may need a cooling off period before discussing the conflict.

  • Stephanie & Colten

    The 5 principles talked about above were helpful. Colten and I had a recent disagreement and we put these principles to use, in particular, the first 3:
    Dealing with it, controlling anger, and clearly defining the problem.

    I decided to stay quiet for a little while to cool off and avoid any unnecessary additional arguments. Then, Colten and I decided to talk through the entire situation to clearly identify what was the root cause of the argument. We even broke out the whiteboard (typical of engineers hahaha). This wasn’t a very long conversation, but it helped us identify some key learnings we can use moving forward and we ended up giggling at the end!

  • Thomas & Tiffany

    These strategies are great to keep in mind with communication. We don’t have a lot of arguments, but when we do, we both seem to kind of just brush it off and let it go away on its own. It’s probably not the best response, because if the situation comes up again in the future, we have no way to resolve it. I think our biggest challenge is both of us needing to open up more and actually SPEAK UP about how we feel about things. We are looking forward to this course teaching us how to communicate more effectively with each other in regards to arguments and conflicts.

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