Making a Commitment - Managing conflict and difficult conversations
From little irritations to big rows
Everyone has a good side and a bad side – there are things we love about our partner and things we hate. As you’ll have seen in ‘Changes and Stages’ when we fall in love we tend to see the best bits and are blind to the rest. But after a while reality dawns and we see our partner as a whole person – the good and the “not so good”.
One way of dealing with the little irritations is to consider what our partner has to put up with in us and to remember that often the things we like about a person are the other side of the things we hate. You can’t have one without the other.
But relationships are about getting on with another person so giving and responding to feedback from each other is all part of building a strong relationship. Being comfortable with talking to each other about things you don’t like is not easy – no wonder then that we say nothing and bottle up our discontent.
It helps to begin by explaining how you are affected by your partner’s habits or behaviour rather than to accuse or blame. “I get worried when you come back late” is easier to accept and respond to than “The trouble with you is that you are always late and don’t care about me”.
Clearly, there is a sliding scale here ranging from the trivial to those habits that are very problematic, such as a major addiction. Again being honest is key – but not just about your partner’s habits but also your own. Nagging rarely achieves anything – what is important is acknowledging how bad habits impact on others and that sometimes we need to change certain behaviours because it matters to the other person.
What usually happens when you disagree with each other? How have you managed stress and disagreements in the lead up to the wedding? Did you find yourself thinking we shouldn’t be arguing – we’re about to get married!
Disagreements are a normal part of being in a relationship - Sometimes it can be helpful for couples to think things in terms of the Four ‘Ds’. Both of you are Different so you will Disagree, and therefore need to Debate. This can be Difficult and cause painful or uncomfortable feelings but it is vital that couples feel able to argue with each other and accept that they have different points of view.