Marriage Therapy and Understanding Conflict Resolution
Conflict is going to happen if you know someone long enough. In fact, the more time you spend with another person, the more likely conflict will take place. Conflict in and of itself is not negative. Conflict provides the opportunity to understand each other on a deeper level and develop greater connection and intimacy. Problems arise when the conflict is viewed as opposition, competition and a power struggle. This sets the stage for a “me vs you” situation which results in a “winner” and “loser”. And of course, nobody likes the feeling of losing. Before long the relationship becomes a continual cycle of conflict because the two people in the relationship are more invested in winning arguments than growing the marriage.
Counseling Couples in Conflict Using Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills
Healthy conflict resolution is not that difficult to practice. With the right skills and strategies, many conflicts don’t really feel like conflicts. Rather they feel more like peaceful negotiations. Conflict resolution requires 4 steps:
Defining the conflict. Defining the conflict is essentially both people agreeing on what the problem is. Often couples in conflict are fighting about 2 different things.
Understanding the conflict. Understanding the conflict is gaining clarity on the root or source of the conflict. If this isn’t discovered, the conflict can’t be thoroughly resolved.
Embracing the conflict. Embracing the conflict means to stay with the process of working through it and not shutting down or “running away” from the problem.
Negotiating the conflict. Lastly, negotiating the conflict is working together on a solution that will benefit both people. Marriage therapy provides a structured, controlled and non-chaotic environment to practice conflict resolution.