How do we fight better?

The question above pops up quite a lot in my couple therapy sessions.  Couples are keen to explore better conflict resolution styles.  While this is understandable, this may also be setting your relationship up for failure.  Should couples be fighting altogether may be another question to consider.

Every couple will have disagreements and difference of opinions however it is just that.  These instances are opportunities for you to hear each other’s views bearing in mind that your partner’s view may be different to yours.  Truly listening to your partner’s views, while holding your own views in the background, will give you good insight into understanding your partner better. 

Conflict or disagreements are about frustrations over unmet needs (feel free to re-read this sentence to fully understand it).  These unmet needs most often come across as criticisms and in most cases you might react to the criticism instead of the unmet need.  This is a lose-lose situation for both of you. 

You both have an opportunity to help each other in this instance.  If you are the one feeling that your needs are not being met then vocalise your needs using ‘I’ statements.  Be careful to choose your words wisely bearing in mind what the message is that you want to get across.  If you are the one being attacked or criticised, try very hard to look past the criticism to find your partners unmet needs that they are voices in that moment.  Being able to do this, will help to dissolve the conflict and then you will be able to have a conversation about a way forward.   

Another tip to avoid conflicts is to vocalise your needs instead of assuming your partner knows what you want and then getting upset because he or she has not met your need.  It is a common misconception that your partner knows what you want and in actual fact they don’t, so always remember to vocalise your needs.

Good communication is being able to vocalise how you feel in a constructive way to build your relationship.