Healthy conflict resolution is an absolutely essential skill for maintaining a strong long-term relationship. I was inspired to write this article after reading Carissa Link’s excellent post called “The Silent Killer in Relationships”. In the post she mentioned how difficult it can be to open up and talk about your feelings if you are upset, stressed or anxious.
USING THE SILENT TREATMENT THE WRONG WAY
“when my parents fought, or there was any form of conflict with my parents and I – there was this notion that we were not supposed to talk it through. There wasn’t much “resolution“, or use of “I’m sorry“, from what I can remember. They, or we, would withstand silent treatment for days – until suddenly, one day, it was all as if nothing ever happened.” – The Mrsinglink
I know this method of “conflict resolution” all too well because this is the method that was also used in my home growing up. It was used by my parents with each other, with us and then eventually between my siblings and I.
This way of using the silent treatment is extremely negative and damaging to relationships. Things shouldn’t be bottled up to the point that they are never discussed. If you let this happen in your relationship, you open yourself up to never experiencing the following things:
- Being heard by your partner
- Explaining your feelings and your side of the story
- Giving forgiveness
- Accepting forgiveness
Those are all amazing things to experience with your significant other. You want those things because they allow you and your partner to grow together.
USING THE SILENT TREATMENT THE RIGHT WAY
Carissa goes on to mention some excellent points about why we should dig ourselves out of a negative mindset for the good of our relationships. She gives tips on how we can encourage ourselves to open up and talk to our partner about our feelings. These are great points and we should all get there eventually.
But I wanted to expand on a great trick that you can use to help yourself get there. To help yourself get to the point where you can actually communicate.
When you are seething with anger or depression or frustration, it’s difficult to talk. This is why it feels SO GOOD to just clam up and not saying anything. To ignore your partner or worse, say things you don’t really mean.
You just want the problem to go away, you don’t want to face the problem head on.
Whether in the relationship, or not. How we handle conflict and confrontation plays a major role in our attitude, as well as an indicator of it’s impact on our relationships. A genuinely positive person strives for resolution and forgiveness (no matter the situation) – with the use of proper communication.
This is true but how can you properly communicate when you’re down right pissed off at your partner?
The answer is the silent treatment. There is a time and a place for using that “method” and this is it. When you are so upset, so angry and so frustrated you can barely think straight, this is NOT the time to talk.
You should take this time to let your partner know that you are feeling upset and you’re not ready to talk yet, but you will be ready soon. This stops you from saying something you’ll regret, or speaking in a tone that is going to blow up the fight into something bigger than it needs to be.
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DIG YOURSELF OUT OF THE SLUMP
When you are by yourself you can cry.
You can punch the pillow.
You can let the tears pour down your face until suddenly, you are hit with a moment of clarity.
Am I overreacting? Was I really just mad because I had a bad day at work? Am I really just hungry and need a snack?
If the problem really is that bad, now is the time to think of a way to communicate the issue in a nice way. In a healthy and productive way.
Go through your feelings in your head and come up with the nicest way to say “you downright pissed me off when you did that.” Try re-phrasing that statement while you’re by yourself in the bedroom. Think of a more productive way to say the same thing.
FACE THE PROBLEM HEAD ON
Once you’ve had your time to yourself, you’re in a much better place to communicate effectively. You have just seriously increased the chances of your conversation going in a much healthier place, and the struggle to “remain positive” when you’re seething with anger isn’t as prominent.
TAKE THIS METHOD INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE
Carissa leaves us with an excellent message of hope:
“Nobody creates the life you live, except you. No one has the permission to change it, except you. Life may throw you obstacles, but the choice to climb them is depended on you. You may not like everything life offers – there’s no use in pitying yourself over it – that is why you are given the power of choice, and the strength to make a change.”
Accepting the fact that you have the ability to change your thoughts and control your mindset is very empowering. Realizing that your perspective can be controlled by you, makes everything else just a little bit easier to deal with.
There’s nothing wrong with needing some alone time, just remember to come back to the world and tell it how you’re feeling. Not only will this help you become an expert at conflict resolution, but your partner will thank you.
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