Below are some suggestions for helping couples to effectively resolve disagreements and conflicts:
1. Ensure the relationship remains your top priority. Don’t prioritise your desire “to be right”, or to be the person who has the last word.
2. It is draining and disheartening to argue all the time. Thus, instead of arguing over every little thing, be highly selective and “choose your battles”.
3. Accept that disagreements are a part of life – but limit how much time you invest in them. Set aside a day and time to discuss emotive issues - and then agree to “get on with the rest of life”.
4. When addressing a conflict, ensure each individual has the chance to speak without interruption. Their partner listens carefully and then reflects back what they heard the other saying - without commenting on this, or adding their opinion or own point of view. The roles are then reversed and the other gets to speak.
5. The dividing issue must be clearly defined in concrete, specific and reasonable language. For example, avoid general phrases that are likely to enrage, like “You always …” or “you never …”
6. Only address one issue at a time, and don’t refer back to previous arguments, buried resentments or old grievances.
7. Do not attack your partner, or “tag all the blame” on one individual, and them alone. Instead, each should be open to accept they have a role in both the problem and, also, the solution.
8. Feelings should be expressed verbally; they should not be acted out.
9. Whenever possible, aim to arrive at a win-win solution so both feel they’ve benefited in some way from being willing to negotiate their differences.
10. Accept that there are times when it is simply best to agree to disagree – and then move on with the rest of life.