Sunday, October 20, 2013

A "10-point checklist" for Working through any conflict with your spouse:

Having worked with countless married couples, I've noticed that many people lack certain skills to navigate their way to resolution.  When you have a conflict, that's merely a difference of opinions.  No biggie.  How you handle those differences of opinion is the key.  Your relationship is strengthened every time you have a successful argument.  Conflicts are like a whetstone, they can either sharpen a blade or blunt them.

Here are 10 questions to ask YOURSELF as you try to manage your next marital conflict:

#1. Is this conflict bringing out my best side?
If the argument is making you crazy, maybe the issue you are fighting over isn't the issue.  Maybe you have tied up too much of your identity in this issue.  Are you really emotionally/spiritually healthy when it comes to this point of contention?  Do a quick check of yourself and make sure.

#2. Is this a "make or break" issue?
It's hard to be open and objective if this issue is the hill you are willing to die on.  Don't win the battle only to lose the war.  Make sure you aren't going full blast over a minor issue.

#3. Have I bathed this issue in prayer?
Why isn't this #1?  Because we are human.  Also, it's hard to pray about something you are not into yet.  Still, make sure you are praying earnestly about the issue, your spouse, and your heart, before you get too far.

#4. Do I feel my spouse hears & understands my perspective?
You might be wasting a lot of time & energy trying to sell your side.  Then again, you might just need to know you are being heard.

#5.  Do I really know why this issue is so important to my spouse?
It's hard to have an open dialogue with your spouse if you don't know where they are coming from.
Be honest with yourself, are you bulldozing your spouse, or have you taken the time to see their point of view?

#6. How urgent is reaching a resolution to my spouse/to me?  
Relax, it's hard to fight fair if you are controlled by anxiety.

#7. What am I afraid of losing if I relinquish my say?

#8. Is there a "3rd" point of view neither my spouse nor I have raised?
Rarely is life black & white.  There might be a better way neither of you have considered, a way that could could be so much better...

#9.  How could we build from each other's wants/needs and find a better solution than either of us had imagined?

#10. What are the effects going to be for our loved ones if:
Nothing changes?
If we go my way?
If I conceded and we go my spouse's way?

Bonus round:
Love your spouse more than you love being right!

Let me wrap up with this:
Collaboration is better than compromise.  Compromising says we both give up something,  Collaboration says we both win.  I hope this checklist will help you find creative ways to handle life's many conflicts.  There's no better gift you can give you children than to model for them how to successfully argue.

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