I am a Social Worker. Have I told you that? Well, currently I am a stay at home mom of 2 but, being a Social Worker is one of those things that you just don’t stop being. When I met my husband I was working as a School Social Worker. As a SSW part of my job was to mediate conflict resolution between students. If students were getting into it they would come to my office and I would pull out my beautifully laminated cards that had the steps for conflict resolution.
Fast forward to present day. Where the heck are those cards? You would have think that conflict is easily resolved between my husband and
I because of my astute knowledge of conflict resolution. After all, I have been trained to listen to others and assess emotional needs. NOT!
Here is how conflict is has been resolved between us. I raise my voice. He walks away or shuts down. Rick, that’s my husband, told me very early on that he does not argue. I don’t see my self as an arguer so I thought I understood what he meant. Then one day I got upset about something and raised my voice. He did not raise his back and simply walked away. He reminded me that he does not argue. Even when I don’t raise my voice and bring up an issue I have he tends to shut down because he does not like conflict. I totally respect and appreciate this trait because a memory our children will not have when they grow up is that of quarrelsome parents. However, this is not an effective way to communicate. Neither of our ways are.
I should not raise my voice to my husband and he should not avoid addressing an issue. So what do we do. I thought about it and remembered the steps to good ole’ conflict resolution.
- STOP – Just stop! Before the conflict gets any worse. If you feel like there is a issue that has the potential to turn heated, just stop. Cool off. You have a much better chance of talking it over if you just take a couple of deep breaths. This is what my husband does which makes perfect sense. The only problem is, is that this is the only step he takes.
- SPEAK – Take turns talking about what the issue is. Calmly. Talk about what would make each of you happy. With students I would encourage the use of “I” messages. Some examples are: “I feel….” or I did not like…..”. Just start with “I”.
- REPEAT – Repeat what it is you heard one another say to avoid any misunderstandings.
- APOLOGIZE – Take ownership for your part in the conflict and apologize sincerely.
- THINK – Now that you both know what the other wants, how can you meet your spouse’s needs regarding the situation? What would be a positive outcome to ensure you are both satisfied? Decide on a solution together. Try writing down the solution as a reminder of what it is you have agreed to do.
- FORGIVE – In marital terms this would be “kiss and make up”. Forgive whatever it is your spouse apologized for. This is your friend, lover, confidant, soul mate, etc. You should be able to resolve your issues and forgive one another.
- PRAY – I just added this one. Pray together about the resolution that you both just went through. Pray that your solutions will be effective and cause a positive change within your marriage.
No marriage is without conflict. It is how you choose to handle the conflict that determines how big it grows. Don’t just yell and don’t just walk away. Address it in an effective way. If this is what our children are being taught to do in schools then this should be what we are modeling for them at home.