Therapy is all about processing emotions. My second step to resolving conflict is to process information with your partner as quickly as possible. Communicate feelings and emotions related to the issue quickly and effectively. Try not to push things under the rug to discuss at a later date. “Swept up” emotions will lead to future resentments. We have all been there: “I’ll just let this one go to avoid a fight.” And maybe sometimes this is a good thing. However, more often than not, what you thought you let go of ends up in the next fight. This leads me to the third step to resolving conflict, stay with the subject. Process one issue at a time. If we try to bring up every unresolved issue, it becomes overwhelming and one or both of you will shut down. Instead of having a discussion about helping more with the children, you end up fighting about him drinking too much at your sister’s Christmas party. Two years ago. Subject lost.
I would have to say that I struggle with step three the most. Because of this, my arguments with my husband tend to get out of control because–well, because I don’t listen to my own damn advice. I use our arguments as a way to vent about everything that he has done wrong in the past week, month,13 years. My husband used to tell me that I am too good at fighting because I would throw everything at him at once: you were rude to my mom, you didn’t take out the trash, I thought we were supposed to have date night. Why did I believe all of this could be processed in a single discussion? These days I am noticing that when I bring up another topic before we have fully processed the initial conflict, we lose sight of the goal (the first step, putting the marriage first
). I have to remember that it is in our best interest to resolve issues and process emotions one at a time and in a timely manner. Although there will be some instances when we have to agree to disagree, it is far better than both walking away defeated.