Thinking of my biggest ever shouting match, and I think it was with my other half.
I was an oh-so-mature 30-year-old, determined to get my way. I wanted to buy a red carpet for our home. He most definitely did not feel the same. He wanted a brown one.
A small bicker about colours led to issues much deeper. “Why do you get your way and not me this time? You always get your way!”
So we both shouted, really shouted. We both got red in the face. We each yelled things to hurt. It was horrible. We each wanted to win. Each wanted to prove our power over the other.
In the end, we somehow made a deal, which I’ve honestly forgotten! And I didn’t buy a red carpet. But we were both left with a nasty taste – a mixture of guilt and regret and depression.
So in a way, if you want to get a feel of healthy conflict management, just think of the unhealthiest way possible! First the heat, then the volume, really putting the other person down, and swelling rage. Those are nasty things to even think about, but then it’s easy to see the opposites of how to work things out well with someone when we disagree.
Keeping a calm tone of voice,
Remembering that you actually love your spouse,
Respecting one another,
Waiting till the climate is cool.
The other thing is, if our stress levels are already high, it doesn’t take much to trigger a blow-up. So if you really want to work on healthy conflict management – go for a coffee on your own regularly! I’m serious. Work on lowering your own stress levels. Things will look much more differently when you’re less stressed.
And as my mother would say – and she was a doctor so she should know – “Prevention is better than cure.”
Dr. Liz B. Samuel was Focus on the Family Malaysia’s resident counsellor.
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