How do you resolve conflicts amicably together with your partner? Well, assuming you don’t have irreconcilable differences you can still walk away undamaged as well as your friendship intact by using “friendly fighting” language and choosing your timing appropriately.
It also helps to in terms of maintaining your connection to have regular “check in” mark points similar to holding a quarterly review for your business to assess how things are going. Making a routine “check up” within the health of your relationship adds that extra bit of insurance for those times when you’re faced with disagreements.
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As for the art of conflict resolution itself, it’s important to first realize that there are different types of conflict. There’s problem solving for problems that arise when maybe 1 spouse has to work a different schedule suddenly and you are suddenly faced with an issue around child care, so you’ve got to figure out what you could do next time to avoid last minute panics. This would be an example of a “solvable problem”.
Then you have what’s known as a “perpetual problem” within the relationship that lingers in 1 form or another. Surprisingly, this also is normal in many relationships. It interesting to note, however, that a certain problem one couple easily solves may become gridlock and a perpetual problem for another couple.
Let us go into a really quick and simple illustration of gridlock — money being the most frequent source. I’ll use one of my clients as an example. She wanted her husband to begin paying the bills, because she was getting tired of always doing it herself. She also felt that he needed to know something about their finances because if anything ever happened to her, he would not know what to do.
Yet in the time they were newlyweds he had never shown any interest their finances, even though he would promise whenever she asked him to get involved. So over the years this pattern of guarantee rather than delivering developed to a perpetual problem. He’d say he would care for things, but he did so according to his own time and so the bills were never paid on time.
As a result, this caused a great deal of resentment and animosity within the relationship. Month after month they’d fight about it, and he would always promise he’d do it differently next time. But he ran out of next times and his wife finally ended up taking the job back from him and performing it herself.
So by the time they came to see me, she was at her wits end in trying to get him to share in paying the bills. Yet once you realize that a challenge is coming up over and over again on your relationship, you also need to start asking yourself, “Is this really worthwhile?”
If you know your spouse is unlikely to ever change in a specific area, perhaps you have to decide to take his idiosyncrasy and begin focusing on strengths he has in other regions. She had to be ready to live with her continued resentment and the reality that this perpetual problem, if she didn’t let go of it, would fuel more discussions in future and even increased gridlock. She decided that she’d rather save her marriage and accept his disinterest in financing.
So, if you have an issue that seems to be performed over and over again on your relationship, you might choose to take some time out and decide whether it may just be a part of your spouse’s personality. Frequently, it’s that they simply do not have the exact emotional investment in that area as you do.
Toni Parker, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and relationship expert for singles as well as couples, and a sought after speaker internationally. From her private practice in Encino, California, she has become a reliable resource for countless couples world-wide (including Hollywood celebrities) for over 22 years. This wealth of experience along with her engaging presentation style has made her an in demand speaker among Fortune 500 companies and special interest groups worldwide.
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