• Randall

7 Easy Steps to Resolving Conflict

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Every relationship will inevitably go through some form of turmoil. Knowing how to resolve these occasional disagreements is the key to maintaining a long-lasting relationship. When we argue, there is usually a surface reason causing the displayed anger, overlying a more profound and more significant reason for those feelings that have yet to be identified.

All too often, it is our underlying life history that shows up in times of conflict. It is an angry inner child, formed in our younger days on those occasions where we were hurt, emotionally or physically. Thankfully our past traumas do not always need to be healed for us to learn to resolve present-day disagreements better.

The adult that we have become today needs to be equipped with the tools to help us separate our past issues from valid present-day concerns. Once this occurs, it becomes easier to resolve conflict. When major disagreements erupt, it is often our damaged inner child that takes over. The defense mechanisms learned as a child to protect against verbal or physical abuse can sometimes be unhealthy ways to seek love, attention, and conflict resolution. These defenses are ingrained in us and now become our first reaction in a conflict.

Here are the steps we have designed to help us quieten the inner voices, our initial instincts and get to a healthy adult outcome.

  1. Take a break. Get some space. It is important to take a break from the argument. Likely, your emotional shields are up. Your responses will be defensive, and you may find yourself attacking your partner to protect yourself. It is unlikely that you will find a resolution while in this state. Take a moment to relax, calm down, and breathe a little.

  2. Get to the heart of what you are feeling. Get a notebook or journal and write down that you are feeling hurt, disrespected, or angry. Write your feelings down as “I” statements. For example, “I feel disrespected,” “I was upset,” or “I wanted.” Revelations may come to you. These “I” statements are a great place to start to find a solution. Think or meditate on the messages you have written down. From where did those feelings come? What was the triggering event?

  3. Decide what you want. Understanding your desired outcome is vital to resolving the argument. Be as specific as possible. If you feel disrespected, what event caused this? What is it that you think needs changing to fix the problem that initially created the fight? For example, if an argument occurred regarding your current finances, is your concern due to a lack of savings, insufficient income, or overzealous spending? Do these issues relate to past insecurities, such as a poor childhood? In such situations, a partner buying something expensive might be a trigger for you but may not be the source of the actual underlying problem. In figuring out what is important to you, you are getting to the heart of the matter. When you realize some changes are needed, you can begin to resolve this and future arguments. However, remember that identifying the root of the anger is only one aspect of this process. Finding a path to resolving the current conflict is key to your success in resolving issues with your partner. Please remember that you are in a partnership of equals, and everybody has a right to their feelings, desires, and opinions. Now while alone and journaling, bring in the feelings from item 2 and fill in this sentence. I am feeling ____________________ because _______________________ and I want ____________________________________________________ Try writing this sentence out a couple of times, using different answers. When you arrive at a version that instinctively feels like the best result for you, continue to the next step. However, first of all, ask yourself the following: -Are you making a fair request? If your needs are controlling or taking away your partner’s freedom in any way, it is not a fair request. -Are you willing to carry out your “want” yourself? If not, then it is a one-sided request and needs to be rethought. -Does your request solve the main underlying issue? For example, if you were feeling disrespected, will the change you want result in you feeling respected?

  4. Share what you have learned. You must share your discoveries in a kind and loving way. Try formatting your responses in this manner: It would help me feel more _________________________________ if you would/could ________________________________________ Insert your feelings and what you want. Remember that you are asking for support. Do not attack your partner through this process.

  5. Understand and Compromise. Respond to your partner. Be open to their concerns and be understanding. You should expect the same from your partner. You can respond using this template: I understand that you feel____________________ and I understand you want _______________________. I think that is reasonable or as a compromise I can agree to_______________________________. Continue this dialogue and compromise until a solution is reached.

  6. Honor the resolution. Both parties need to understand and remember that it is a fantastic achievement to work on and heal the argument. Each of you must work to honor the agreements made and keep your promises.

  7. Reconnect. It is important to re-establish the relationship and the connections that it brings. Long hugs and kisses can be helpful. Each partner should give the other something from their love language. Compliment them for their understanding and compassion. If their love language is touch, spend a little time reconnecting through touch. Each of you needs to do something to reconnect with your partner. This is the final item to close the circle.


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