Category Archives: conflict
Often when we enter into a situation with our partner for the purpose of resolving a problem or coming up with a solution, we come together with the attitude of competing against each other rather than creating a team effort. When we have the competition mind-set we bring our own ideas and solutions to the table with the attitude that my plan is the best and so the purpose of the discussion is to win my partner over to my side. When we do this, we create a number of relationship dynamics that are unhealthy for your couple intimacy.
When both parties think that their idea is the best, it creates a power struggle between them that can get rather nasty. Now, instead of working together on the same team you are at odds with each other. Secondly, this approach makes a statement of disrespect to your partner. Without actually saying it (well some of you do actually say it), you are telling your partner that their ideas have no value or that they are dumb. Sometimes this even leads to blaming and name-calling or other intimidation strategies. The usual result of this approach is that one of you loses and one wins or you come to a dead end where nothing is resolved. This approach tends to drive a wedge between couple relations in that one person is often left to struggle with feelings of disappointment or resentment. Sometimes the loser will even seek to sabotage the decision in order to proof their point or just as a way of expressing their anger.
A better approach is to come to the solution circle with the mind-set that both of you offer a legitimate perspective and so both of you have valuable insights to contribute to the solution. My wife sometimes quotes a saying from her mother which goes something like this, “if both of you think a like then there is only a need for one of you.” The point is that you need to see the fact that you both have different perspectives as a strength not a road block. As a team you can tap into the best of both minds, with two sets of insights.
Begin the discussion by defining what exactly it is that you hope to resolve. Allow each person to share his or her insights and concerns as well as what is of high value to them in coming up with a solution. Then, by using both perspectives work on a solution that both of you can own. When you take this approach one of you won’t be tempted to sabotage the solution in order to prove it wrong. Instead, you will both be inspired to give your plan the best effort. It will feel like a bonding exercise. And together, through problem solving, you will have discovered a more intimate response.
About the author
Phil Cole is the Pastor of Personal Development at Huron Park Baptist Church. He has an MA in counseling from Providence Theological Seminary. He holds a BTh and BRE from Emmanuel Bible College, as well as a BA in sociology from University of Waterloo. Phil is the founding chair of New Hope Family Ministries, which offers practical assistance to families impacted by abuse. Phil has his own counseling practice, and is also available for marriage retreats and weekend workshops.
We give thanks to Phil for permission to use his articles for helping our readers.