In this unit, we will take a look at the inevitable conflicts in marriage and the increased conflicts that parenting brings. You will have an opportunity to practice some ways to manage these conflicts better. It’s not how often you fight, but the way that you fight that will make the difference in your relationship.
In this lesson we lay some foundations necessary for better conflict management. Gottman has identified four destructive communication styles. They will definitely harm your relationship and could, if not changed, end in a broken marriage. Gottman calls them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Begin this unit by watching this video. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Do you see any of these styles in your relationship? No change will happen in your communication unless you recognize how these styles hurt your relationship and begin making necessary changes.
A basic understanding is necessary in order for both parties to be willing to work through conflicts. We must believe that our spouse is willing to be influenced. Otherwise we may sabotage any effort our spouse makes to bring about changes in our relationship. We may, on the other hand, not discuss some problems because we fear the reaction our spouse will have to any complaint. In this case, the problems build up to a huge explosion.
Read: Accepting Influence.
When we accept influence, we are turning towards our spouse and not away from them. We are willing to listen to what they have to say instead of interrupting or cutting in with negative comments. Accepting influence is also about moving from a position of “me” to “we.” When we do, we can both feel better and see improvement.
Not all arguments have the same degree of seriousness. They all feel pretty horrible at the time, but looking back, we can often say one was worse than another or one was just so petty. Problems that are less serious and can be resolved with some mutually agreed on adjustments are called solvable problems. Ones that seem to resurface with seemingly no way to compromise are called perpetual problems.
Watch The 7 Principles that Make a Marriage Work– This video will take about 7 minutes to watch. Pay special attention to principle 5, Solve Your Solvable Problems.
Use the Gottman Card Deck called “Great Listening”. Getting better at listening and talking about many different topics will help you build some basic understandings that will make dealing with conflicts easier.
In the next lesson we will cover some strategies for dealing with conflicts. These can be put into practice right away with some solvable problems you may have currently.
The last lesson in this unit will deal with perpetual problems and a practical way to come to compromise.
Ask questions or make comments in the “Comment” box at the bottom of this page or email me personally. Please include any comments about the lesson content and teaching method, too.