Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Conflict and Couples: Standing Up For Yourself

Remaining calm and hearing out your partner are not the only things that are important in relationships. It is also important to find ways to stand up for yourself. Giving in truly is not always the best response, even if it seems to keep the peace.

There are lots of drawbacks to giving in a lot. The biggest one, of course, is that resentment tends to build as you discover that very little is going your way.

Tim grew up in a family that was loud and angry. He often retreated to his room or to the garage just to get away from the yelling in his family. He vowed never to have a relationship like that so he avoided any kind of conflict with Terry. While Terry found that she often got her way, she also felt frustrated that Tim did not share his thoughts with her and she also noticed that he might go along with what she wanted but often did not seem very happy about it, sometimes even angry.

Tim needed to learn how to stand up for himself in calm, respectful, direct and firm ways. Here are some of the things he said has helped him.

* Tim learned to figure out in his own mind what his needs, thoughts or beliefs were. He learned to understand what it was that was important to him and the reasons for this.
* He began to hear and understand, even if he did not agree with or accept, Terry’s position.
* Tim considered her opinion and determined if there was anything that she wanted or needed that he could agree with and accept.
* He let Terry know that he heard her and respected her as a person but did not agree with her. He told her that his ideas or desires were different than hers and directly and calmly explained them.
* There were a few times that Terry tried to dismiss Tim, especially at first when she was not used to him disagreeing so directly with her. At those times, he again stood up for himself by telling her that he felt dismissed and needed for her to listen to him. There were several times that he had to do that, and eventually Terry learned that she could not always have her way about things.
* There were even a few times that Terry continued to be loud and disrespectful and Tim told her that he was not willing to continue the conversation at that point. He promised to come back to talk with her when they were both calmer and in a better place to listen to each other.

Tim got very good at sorting through the things that were important and that he needed to stand up for and what things were less important and he could lovingly let go and allow Terry’s needs to prevail.

Contact us at CounselingRelationshipsOnline.com if you would like some coaching on how you can stand up for yourself.

Feel free to leave questions or comments here and maybe we can have some discussion about what has worked for you as you have learned to stand up for yourself.

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