You will inevitably experience a conflict between yourself and a loved one at some point. The cause could be different goals or perhaps a simple misunderstanding. Understandably, conflicts are cause for stress, anxiety, and magnifying other challenges you face. In recovery, conflicts may arise during the process of rebuilding trust with yourself and others in relationships. The stress that occurs during these conflicts can create triggers for relapse.
A big step in recovery is learning how to resolve disputes to help you manage stress, cravings and build healthier relationships. Understand that you are not alone when conflicts arise between you and a loved one, and your circumstances are not unique. Taking the proper steps to resolve these conflicts will create a healthier environment for everybody.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM
Conflict can be hard to manage because some people don't mind conflict; they may even thrive on it. However, the majority of people do not like it and avoid it, even to their detriment. If you are one to deflect and avoid conflict, then you might pretend that there is no problem at all. Remember, pretending does not eradicate the problem. However, when you acknowledge a problem, you can begin to see where and why the difference of opinion might happen.
For example, you have differences in buying a house with your spouse, which becomes the source of conflict. Looking at this source and asking why there is a difference helps you understand another's perspective. Perhaps they don't want to move because they have family nearby and don't want to lose that connection. Or, maybe you have family elsewhere and want to move closer to them. When you identify the conflict and why it occurs, you can focus on the resolution rather than be right or avoid it altogether.
DON'T DISCUSS DECISIONS WHEN YOU'RE ANGRY
While anger might seem motivating in some circumstances, it will always intensify conflict rather than resolve it. When a dispute with a loved one arises, take time to step away so you can allow each of you time to cool down. Often, most people continue to argue, which only hurts, making matters worse.
Sometimes the individuals involved in the conflict move far away from the initial cause and argue for the sport. Even pausing for a few minutes to take a breath can help you and your loved one reset and focus on the issue. Remember, you do not want to say or do anything that you can't later take back.
You might even agree to designate a later time to discuss such matters if you each know that having the discussion now will only stand to trigger the situation. Getting some distance helps you and your loved one keep the big picture in mind. You know the saying "penny wise, pound foolish?" This saying is especially true when it comes to arguments. Becoming fixed on some small benefit or being "right" only stands to alienate your loved ones.
LISTEN TO EACH OTHER
Often the most significant disconnect between individuals locked in an argument is their inability to listen because they are waiting to get their point across. However, a substantial step toward resolving any conflict is a willingness to listen. It might be challenging, putting aside your desires and opinions and listening to what your loved one has to say, but it is essential to bringing understanding. In your recovery journey, you have likely come to understand that listening is a skill in itself, and it starts with giving your full attention.
When your loved one finishes talking, reflect on what you heard. Letting your loved ones know that you heard them shows that you respect and appreciate where they are coming from and how they feel. Likewise, it lends the same feeling of respect and understanding when your loved one shows you that they are listening.
Try to use phrases like "It sounds like what you are telling me is-" and characterize the statements with care and accuracy. You are soon likely to find that you are not dealing with conflict but rather a misunderstanding. Even if there is a legitimate conflict, it will help you better understand one another.
DON'T PLAY THE BLAME GAME
Blaming your loved one creates more conflict, and most conflict does not usually arise from any motive. Typically, miscommunication happens between two people who want mutually exclusive things. There are no ill intentions, as the needs and wants are no more legitimate than the other. It is essential to recognize the needs of each other and what each other wants. You will also want to consider that each of your wants is reasonable. Try not to make matters worse by attributing any malice toward each other.
Blame only plants seeds for roots to sink deeper in later differences of opinion. Instead of looking for places to pass blame, look at where the compromise and agreement lie. For example, if keeping a clean home that involves cooking, laundry, vacuuming, etc., look at the areas you can improve and try to develop a schedule that you can each follow. Setting goals together and accomplishing these tasks together helps you and your loved one remember that you are both on the same side. It is much easier to confront problems as a team rather than as adversaries.
BE OPEN TO FORGIVENESS
Remember, this relationship exists because you deeply care for one another. It is also why you might become more passionate when involved in a dispute with a loved one because it hurts you on a different level than, say, disagreeing with a stranger. That does not mean that feelings of resentment, anger, or being hurt are justified. Forgiveness not only helps bring you and your loved one closer together, but it repairs and nourishes your mental and physical health.
Recovery is lifelong, and you can't choose the challenges, nor can you choose the disputes you're going to have with a loved one. If you cannot resolve your problems with a loved one on your own and it is causing more stress and triggers, then it is time to seek help. At START UP RECOVERY, we help both individuals in a relationship find ways to communicate and manage their differences with themselves and each other. We believe that everybody can transform into the person they want to be; however, it sometimes takes knowing where to start. At START UP RECOVERY, we offer a comfortable space where you can become vulnerable to trusting yourself and others and ultimately getting yourself to the next personal and professional level. Remember, it all begins with taking the first step toward help. To find out more, reach out to START UP RECOVERY today by calling us at 310-773-3809.