Monday, November 19, 2007

Stalemates in Conflict

Sometimes couples get stuck around a specific issue and neither one is willing to budge. Even trying all of the “fighting fair” suggestions seems to lead nowhere. The stalemate may be around a big issue such as whether or not to have children, making a big purchase, where to live. It may also be about a smaller issue that seems to go round and round with little change such as who takes out the garbage or does the dishes. Each person feels misunderstood, disappointed and even angry. The fighting escalates and often turns in to criticism, nagging, defensiveness and may become hurtful.

Some suggestions:
1. Find a time to talk when you are both calm.
2. Try to have the discussion in a different place, like at a restaurant or outside on the deck.
3. Reach for compromise. If there is anything that you can offer that might feel like a compromise for your spouse, be sure to offer it.
4. Think about what the “must haves” parts of the issue are for you … and what are the things that less important.
5. Get a clear understanding from your partner about what her side is all about. Find out why this position is so important. What does it mean to him in his life? Be sure to get the full picture. Listen to your spouse and try to let her know that you really do understand why this position is so important to her. Tell yourself that you want to really understand the other side completely … and make sure that your partner feels that you really do understand (even if you do not agree) before sharing your ideas. It is often from a truly deep understanding that people are able to move closer to each other.

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