It may be just the pressure of being “on lockdown” (we humans tend to react adversely when we’re ordered to do something we don’t want to do!). Or it may be that this period of isolation is highlighting something in your relationship that needs to be faced or addressed fully. If you feel conflict and relationship stress is increasing, there are a number of things you can do to minimise the damage that conflict will do. Especially if children are involved. It is important to find the most peaceful and amicable way through.
When you’re feeling the frustration and anger rising, here are 5 things you can do immediately, so the situation doesn’t escalate.
1, STOP. JUST STOP.
Shouting manifests nothing other than more shouting. And that’s not your aim. If you want to be heard, validated, or understood, you will not achieve that when your partner is gearing up to be defensive.
Conflict arises when both parties choose to fight fire with fire.
Conflict arises when both parties feel that backing down is weak or an admittance of being wrong.
Conflict arises when both parties are looking for the win.
Conflict arises when you forgot to see your partner as an ally, and see them as an enemy.
That’s not a relationship – that’s war!
Take yourself away from the battlefield. Call time out. Move to a different space. Be sensible. No battle is entered into without a strategy, and you cannot be strategic and emotional at the same time.
2. AVOID TELLING YOUR PARTNER TO CALM DOWN
Telling someone to calm down usually works as a red rag to a bull. It can come across as patronising and instead of calming your partner down, you fuel more upset. Can you empathise with their position? Then do so. They are then more likely to calm down by themselves and explain the way they are feeling, thus avoiding conflict.
3. FOCUS ON ONE THING
In conflict, we tend to bring up all other hurts. Thus, a minor disagreement becomes a litany of past transgressions and hurts, rather than the matter in hand. If that is your arguing style, and it doesn’t get you the resolution you want, perhaps it is now time to learn a new way.
You can learn to master your own emotions. Disagreements and frustrations are natural in relationships and do not have to turn into major conflict. You can become either the victim of, or the victor over your emotions, because only you are responsible for the way you feel. You decide.
4. REMEMBER TO BREATHE
Nearly all self-help books, gurus and programmes teach you the power of breath work. Why? Because it works. By mastering your breathing, you master your emotions. Your state of mind affects your breath and your breathing affects your state of mind. By mastering your breathing, you can master your emotions and by mastering your emotions you can choose not to play a negative part in any conflict.
In effect, you take responsibility for you.
5. WHAT ARE YOU ARGUING FOR?
That’s the question to ask yourself. In the midst of your back-and-forth, ask yourself, “What am I actually arguing for?” The chances are, you’re having the same old argument, just in a different way. What is the purpose? Are you arguing to make a point? Are you arguing to make the relationship stronger? Are you arguing because you don’t think your partner will ever get too fed up and leave as they know what you’re like, so it’s OK? Or are you arguing so that your partner will get fed up and leave?
What are you actually arguing for?
The answer to that question will determine the next move you make. And avoid further conflict.