Joe and Rachel were fighting over a common parenting issue. Of course, both were convinced they were right because of the way they were raised. Differences noted, but they had to come to some agreement as to how to actually discipline their teen.
Conflict is a normal part of any relationship. But the way conflict is handled is important. Here are 6 ways to cultivate a healthy relationship when it comes to handling differences:
1) Identify your way and your spouse’s way of handling differences. For example, do you tend to rationally go at a problem and he tends to avoid? Joe wanted to listen to his teen daughter’s reason for disobedience before he decided her punishment. Rachel felt the reason was unimportant and was ready to levy the consequence. Both realized that their different styles had to be acknowledged. Then it was up to the couple to decide what to do.
2) Develop a compatible style of handling differences. An avoider and a fighter don’t do well together. If both of you avoid, you may do well because the styles are compatible.The same is true of two fighters, but when a fighter and avoider get together, accommodations in style differences will need to be made.
3) Choose a biblical model for handling differences. For example, look at Matthew 18: Go to the person, address the problem, bring in another person if you get stuck, etc.
4) Practice anger management. Review the guidelines in my Breaking Free from Anger and Unforgiveness book. Anger is not wrong, but you can sin in the way you handle anger. For example,no shouting, name-calling, holding on to unresolved anger, etc.
5) Choose to forgive and move towards reconciliation.
6) Agree to disagree over the nonessential differences.Sometimes the best thing to do is to simply allow the differences. For example, rolling toilet paper up or down is not a life sustaining difference. if your partner does it differently, is it really that big of a deal?
Remember, differences are normal. How they are handled is what is important.
Copyright © 2013 Dr. Linda Mintle
Dr. Linda Mintle is a author, professor, Approved Supervisor and Clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, as well as a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years in psychotherapy practice. Read more at drlindamintle.com