Disagreeing or ‘fighting’ in a primary relationship may not necessarily be sign of incompatibility.  That is, as long as there is resolution to the disagreement that is acceptable to both partners and the conflict is resolved.  So how often does that really happen?  Not nearly as often as it could.

The first step is to agree on what the ‘fight’ or disagreement is about – it usually isn’t about who takes out the garbage, are the finances under control, or whose turn it is to put the kids to bed, etc.  More often it is about the negative or uncomfortable feelings these discussions bring up in one or both the partners.  Feelings of disrespect, being ignored or taken for granted or treated as invisible or unimportant, promote angry, sad or critical behavior in one partner that is then met with defensiveness, return criticism or stonewalling (“I don’t want to talk about this.”) in the other.

Getting to the heart of the disagreement is a crucial first step and may take the intervention of a third party (not another family member, the kids or a best friend) to assist partners to let go of their highly prized and defended positions about a matter and truly engage in working through the issue at hand.

Once partners improve their ability to define the problem, they can then move on to solving it.  Collaboration (the truly best approach) is the practice of seeking options or possible solutions that are agreeable to both partners.  Collaborating involves presenting both partner’s possible solutions and if there is not 100% buy in or acceptance by the other, to be willing to go on to option #3, 4, 5 etc. until there is a feeling of win-win.  If each partner approaches conflict resolution with the goal of finding a solution that they are pleased with and that is EQUALLY pleasing to their partner, this style of resolving problems become easier and easier.

Needing to be right or always prevailing in a conflict is as destructive as habitually yielding or accommodating yet holding onto resentment. Walking away from a conflict or refusing to revisit it only temporarily sweeps it under the rug.  Long term resentment eventually erodes connection and intimacy in relationships and will resurface later.  When conflicts are resolved, there is an increase in communication, self-respect, respect for your partner and increased intimacy – all hallmarks of great relationships.

Lynn Stedman is one of those Baby Boomers who has found a way to have a meaningful retirement – she isn’t having one!  She began her education by becoming a Dental Hygienist which she pursued for 15 years full time — picking up a graduate degree in Higher Education along the way. She returned to graduate school and completed a second Master’s degree – in Clinical Counseling and Psychotherapy from Antioch University and began a private practice in Marriage and Family Therapy.
After successfully working both careers part time, she moved from Seattle back to the Tri-Cities in 2006 and was the Dental Hygiene director at Columbia Basin College for 12 years.  Beginning in the summer of 2017, she began to build another therapy practice focusing on strategies for successful second marriages and working with individual and couples.  Her goals for her clients include learning a successful style of resolving conflict and to identify what is most important in their lives so they can focus on this to have meaningful lives.
Lynn’s contact information is:  www.lynnstedman.com, phone 509 366-1023, office address:  8350 W. Grandridge, Kennewick, WA.  She offers a no charge first visit.

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