conflict resolution

What NOT to do when fighting with your partner!

The last time you got into a fight with someone close to you, what emotions did you feel? How did you act? Did you criticize the other person, call them names, or roll your eyes as you sat in stony silence? Did you get defensive when they tried to explain what was wrong? Or were you able to joke around and lighten the mood?

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"Growing each other up" - relationship conflict as an opportunity for personal development

Conflict in relationships is never easy. Many of us would like to have a relationship free of conflict, at least most of the time.

However, conflict is not only impossible to avoid, but can be healthy in a relationship. Done skillfully and with awareness of what buttons are being pushed for yourself and your partner, conflict can take couples into new territory that promotes personal growth as well as enhancing intimacy together.

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When setting boundaries may be the most caring thing to do for you and your partner

One of the most painful things to witness - as a counsellor working with distressed couples - is where one person, having tried every way they can to let their partner know that their needs are not being met, becomes stuck in communicating this in an angry and critical way. Their partner then defends themselves against this perceived attack, and the distressed person is then left feeling even more desparate and unheard, and that their needs are not important to their loved one.

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How do you manage anger in your relationship?

Most people would agree that anger is an important emotion - we need it! It tells us when something is wrong, where there is an issue to be addressed. Of course, it's vital that the way we express our anger is respectful, and that we do not behave in a way that makes the other person feel frightened or intimidated.

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Conflict in relationships - how to keep the kids in mind?

When you and your partner deal with conflicts between you, what are your ideas about how you should work it through? If you have kids, what beliefs do you have about whether they should be around when you're fighting?

You may think:-

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Getting to "I'm OK, you're OK" in intimate partner conflict

It's a simple premise - if I can hold in mind that fundamentally you ARE OK, even if I wholeheartedly disagree with the position you've taken on an issue, we should be able to arrive at a point of mutual understanding, if not consensus.

The opposite should also hold true - if I can hold in mind that basically I AM OK, even if you vehemently oppose the position I have adopted about the issue we are in conflict about, then we should be capable of at least 'agreeing to disagree' in a respectful way.

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'Don't sweat the small stuff' vs 'the straw that broke the camel's back' - how do you determine what's important to fight for?

Are you in a relationship where you fight over seemingly trivial things? Or are you perhaps in a situation where one of you thinks the issue is trivial, while to the other it's anything but?

Or to put it another way - are you unsure whether you're just 'sweating the small stuff' (and need to learn ways to let go of things that are unimportant and cause unnecessary tension), or whether you're unable to move on because the issue is, in fact, very important to you?

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Do unto yourself as you would do unto others - when is it important to reverse 'the golden rule' in relationships?

Whether or not we come from a religious background, most of us think 'the golden rule' is an important principle to live by - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". We know the importance of treating others with respect, kindness and compassion - in intimate relationships, families, communities, workplaces and beyond.

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The children come first:- parenting the 'inner child' in intimate relationships

These days, as parents of young children, we emphasise the importance of putting the children first - their needs take priority. And rightly so! Children are not able to care for themselves; we need to attend to their needs and in doing so, teach them that it's OK to have their needs met - physically, emotionally and developmentally.

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"If it ain't broke don't fix it!" Are risk-minimizing strategies creating more pain than gain in your relationship?

Many of us have been there - had our hearts broken by people who were careless with our most tender and vulnerable feelings. We emerged from the experience vowing  to learn from it - "Never again, I'll make sure I don't .... (place here your most embarrassing memory of saying or doing something that was received with scorn, contempt or rejection)"

The problem is, your current partner may have an issue with the fact you don't:-

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