Learning how to handle conflict in a relationship is tough, because it forces us to challenge our instincts.
When people get their feelings hurt, most of us don’t want to go near the person who hurt them. This holds true in families, with co-workers and in relationships. It’s just easier to back away when something painful happens. It’s just the way many humans are wired.
As a couples specialist I know that even with the person we love, for some of us it’s instinctive to pull away when things get messy. I work with people who love each other who just want to know what to do when they fight. They usually wonder if they could do the fighting part better so they don’t have to stay wounded and apart for so long.
Recover From Conflict Faster by Reconnecting
I wish there was something I could say to help people just get over this one hump so they can get back to their lives and feel better. But I know; because I have had to learn it, and because I teach it, people have to figure out a better way to pull your partner toward you when the feelings get hurt, not push them away.
And this is probably the hardest part of being together with another person. It doesn’t matter how much we love our partner. If we hold on to making them wrong when we get our feelings hurt, or feeling so bad we can’t talk to them when we get wounded, these patterns will not just improve with time or go away by themselves, they need to be worked on.
The work is crazy different than what most people have been doing, probably all their lives. But when we are in a relationship that we really want to last, we may have to think about changing ourselves. We can not change the other person no matter how hard we wish it or wait. We can though, change how we respond to our hurt feelings.
How to Handle Conflict Delicately by Changing How You Respond to Hurt Feelings
When I used to get upset it would start out big, lots of words said to the person who hurt me, and then end up in a dramatic way of me storming out of the room and spending time alone until I could calm down. From inside myself I didn’t know to do anything else. This is how I managed my life. I had no idea of the impact on the people that would experience my pain and anger.
But I did know that if I wanted my relationship to work, I had to work on my response to getting my feelings hurt. I had to find a way to stop making my partner the bad guy and to start talking or crying or doing something other than raging at him.
How to Handle Conflict Sympathetically: Put Yourself in Their Shoes
I had to grow out of some old patterns that were destructive to us as a couple. This is what we have to do as a good mate. If you have some large reaction behaviors, (like I did) when you get your feelings hurt, take a moment to think about what it’s like for your loved one to receive it.
If you can get that image in your head, you won’t feel good about it. And if this happens to you, you might be able to gain some awareness about yourself, and that’s the first step toward change.
Here’s what I know now: as hard as it might seem, I know I’ll feel better when I turn toward my mate when I get hurt. The healing lies between us. I say that I am sad or misunderstood or feel alone and neglected in a way that he can hear it. Not with anger, but with sadness. He loves me and does not want to see me sad. He comes closer when I turn toward him this way.
And guess what.
I get healed. I don’t have to rage. We get through it and it doesn’t take hours or days. It is over in minutes. And that’s what you want. Not a perfect relationship where no one ever gets their feelings hurt, but one that can withstand the difficulty, without everyone getting off track.
Learn Even More About How to Handle Conflict in Your Relationship
Read a Book About Relationships
Can’t make it on Monday? Read all about how to handle conflict as it arises in relationships. Read Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might just help you understand how to fight less, and how to handle the fights that do arise with a slightly softer touch. Give it a read.