Relationship Conflict - Blow Up or Blow Through

Every now and then I hear a "relationship expert" say that they have never had a argument with their spouse. This is when I find myself thinking this person is either lying or certainly can't relate to me.

Conflicts come to all relationships. It's how we handle the conflict that make the difference between a great relationship and a break up looking for a place to happen.

3 Approaches to Avoid

Blow Up - Blowing up is one of the most common ways to handle conflict, especially for men. Somehow we get the notion that getting mad at something can solve any problem. Maybe blowing up was modeled for us at home, or perhaps anger is the emotion with which we are most familiar.

There's just a couple of problems with this approach. At best blowing up will distance people, and at worst, scares them, even scares them away.

And it doesn't solve the problem either.

Blow In - Blowing in is taking all those yucky feelings caused by conflict and swallowing them, stuffing them inside. Here's the kind of conversation that often occurs:

Partner 1: "How did you like the movie?"

Partner 2: "Fine."

Partner 1: "How did you like the music?"

Partner 2: "Fine."

Partner 1: "Would you like to see it again?"

Partner 2: "Fine?"

Uh oh.

One problem with blowing in is that if you do it as a lifestyle and for a lifetime, it can literally make you sick, even kill you. The body can only take so much poison before it causes damage.

The other problem with blowing in is that anger and resentment will grow and build up. Sometimes for just a few minutes or days, sometimes for years, but an explosion is coming. So blowing in eventually leads to, you guessed it, blowing up.

Blowing Off: This one appears so innocent, with statements from "Hey, it's no big deal" all the way to "Oh just get over it and get a life!"

And yet it's not so innocent.

Blowing off sends at least three lousy messages:

=>you are not understood, =>you don't count, =>your feelings are not important or cared about.

With just one of the above, you've got trouble.

With all three, you've got a breakup looking for a place to happen.

A Better Way to Handle It

Blowing Through - Here's a few quick and easy steps:

1) See the conflict as the enemy, not each other. While it is easier said than done, it makes a huge difference. Seeing the conflict as an enemy from outside the relationship allows you to do two important things:

=>avoid fighting to be right, =>team up and attack the problem together.

2) Identify the conflict. Name it so you can tame it.

3) Nuke it. Throw everything you have at it. All your creativity, silly and crazy ideas, all the skills, solutions and tools you each have, go into knocking this thing out in a way that works for both of you.

And that's not all.

To truly blow through a conflict, you've got one more thing to do...........

4) Set it up so that it's not likely to happen again. When conflicts like this arise again, and they will, you now have a game plan, an "our way" of handling it that allows you to blow right through it.

Jeff Herring is a relationship coach, speaker and syndicated relationship columnist. For more "relationship first aid" visit SecretsofGreatRelationships.com


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