By Susanne M. Alexander, relationship/marriage educator, coach, author and NAWBO Virtual member
When we view couple conflicts through the lens of opportunity, we can transform them into constructive dialogue that enriches the relationship. In essence, turn discord into harmony.
As high achievers, we are familiar with problem-solving in our professional lives. We can apply the same skills to our personal relationships. Below are some strategies to help shift couple discord into growth and connection.
- Mindful Communication: Think carefully before you open your mouth. Before speaking, assess the impact your words may have on your partner. Are you complaining and criticizing or trying to solve a problem? Aim to express yourself in ways that foster unity and understanding, instead of causing disunity and misunderstandings.
- I-Statements Over Blame: Instead of starting sentences with “You”, start with “I.” This simple shift in communication can express how you’re feeling without blaming your partner. For instance, instead of saying, “You never listen to me”, try, “I’m not feeling heard when I’m talking to you, so how can we interact differently?”
- Emotional Responsibility: Own your emotions. It’s essential to acknowledge and accept your feelings, instead of projecting them onto your partner. Then you can communicate about them more clearly without triggering defensiveness, which opens the door for an empathetic response. If you feel overwhelmed during an argument, communicate that you need a timeout and agree on a time to revisit the conversation. This allows time for any physical and emotional reactions to calm down and prevents your partner from feeling abandoned or frustrated.
- Cultivate Appreciation: Make a habit of noticing and expressing appreciation for the good in your partner and their positive actions. When there is a fight, it’s easy to say critical words, but remembering your partner’s virtues can help keep negativity in check. A daily practice of gratitude can also transform the energy of your relationship.
- Commitment to Growth: Recognize that each conflict is an opportunity for personal growth and deepening your relationship connection. You can see where your own words or behaviors can be improved, and you can appreciate how much more you prefer unity rather than disunity. Approach each disagreement as a challenge to be better individually and collectively.
- Frequent Connection Time: Just like regular business meetings, schedule consistent, quality time with your partner. Making time for enjoyable and interesting dates is vital for your relationship’s well-being. This time together can help maintain a strong connection, build trust and create a safe space to discuss issues before they become conflicts. Your goal is to have a relationship where you are consultative and collaborative, and therefore, conflict becomes rare. You stay tuned into each other’s world and address topics proactively.
Incorporating these strategies will not only benefit your personal relationship, but they can also have positive effects on your professional life.
Effective communication, emotional intelligence and conflict resolution are skills that translate into leadership and professional success. As you refine your abilities to prevent and navigate conflicts in your personal life, you’ll notice these improvements contributing to your professional achievements.
My experience is that couples who actually apply such skills in their relationships instead of just knowing about them, are the couples who thrive.
This is why my best recommendation for anyone looking to take their relationship to the next level is to use strategies like the ones I have shared above to create what I call transformational dates. In my view, such dates can take couples from trying to deal with challenges to reigniting their love in a way that is experiential, not only intellectual like when reading a book.
If you want to understand more about what transformational dates are and how you can use them in your life, I am offering a complimentary online training here.
About the Author…
Susanne M. Alexander has been a relationship/marriage educator and coach through her company Marriage Transformation® for 19 years, and she is the author of 20 books, including her latest called Couple Vitality. Susanne guides individuals and couples to gain the knowledge and skills to have happy and healthy relationships. Together with France-based Alex Cabon, she delivers relationship transformation courses online to business professionals who want to also be successful with a relationship partner through the 12 Magical Dates program.