How do you deal with conflict in your intimate relationships? Do you try to avoid conflict by hiding parts of yourself? Many people avoid true intimacy in service of maintaining a connection. But if they do not share their true feelings, then there is no true intimacy. Instead, they are left with a facade of a relationship and a wall between the two players.
There are many tips on how to deal with conflict and foster intimacy. For the simplicity of this blog, we’ll focus on 5 tips.
1) Understand from the beginning that neither of you need to agree on the issue. You do not have to see things the same way. Instead the goal is to respectfully understand each other’s perspectives.
2) Think of your partner as a person of good will. Assuming you have a loving spouse, it is important that you enter the discussion with the mindset that they love and respect you and you feel the same positive feelings toward them.
3) Set up a protocol whereby one person gets to talk uninterrupted until they are finished. Once they are done, ask them if there is anything else they would like to share before you are ready to do your own sharing. This is similar to the idea of a ‘talking stick.’
4) Agree to have the discussion in a loving way. Your voice, words, and body language will either invite your partner into the discussion or threaten them.
5) Make ‘I’ statements rather than accusations. Accusations can make the other person defensive. Instead ‘I’ statements encourage understanding. For example, “when you come home late, I get frightened and then I get angry.”
These tips must come from an authentic and genuine place. A recent study by Ronald Rogge showed that partners who just said trained statements without genuine feeling behind their words did not foster intimacy. Words must come organically and ‘from the gut.’ If you notice that you are blocked from saying loving and respectful words, then this block can be examined in therapy and dissolved.