3 ways You Can Grow Closer As A Family During Conflict
When I think back on all the stinker times I was so bent on proving myself right to my husband, I cringe. So many times in earlier marriage, we bickered about such unimportant things or became entrenched and dug in when we could have worked together.
A key mistake we made was in allowing problems to wedge themselves between us. We forgot we were best friends and not enemies. We forgot at heated times that we were really beloved to each other. Our emotions ruled, and we didn’t rein ourselves in. We also lacked a “system” and good patterns to use in conflict and problem solving.
There were times with my children where I lost patience, raising my voice unnecessarily, and modelled to them unhealthy handling of conflict. Over time, I got better and better at learning how to have healthy resolution of disputes. And I modelled what I learned to my children.
Conflict, when handled well, can truly be an occasion to bring you closer. It can be a thing of beauty.
Here are three ways you can grow closer as a family during conflict.
1) Decide and choose to take away permission to yell or be sarcastic.
God gives us free will and will-power. We are the ones who give ourselves permission to lose it. Bad habits develop and we do nothing about them. It takes practice and resolve, but within 30 days, every person can become a non-yeller, can practice a kind tongue, and certainly can change how they deal with their anger or impatience. (I have a strategic system developed that works!)
I guarantee you that when you address conflict with some emotional and verbal control, you will see beautiful fruits in your relationships. Words matter and so does the presentation of them.
Proverbs 16:24 24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
2) Acknowledge feelings/emotions and accept them for what they are.
Affirm them. Emotions are neither good or bad (situations can be). They simply are. Show understanding and empathy. You do not have to be in agreement, but you can be compassionate and caring.
“That must be so hard.”
“I know you are upset.”
“I care about what you are going through, lets look at what can be done.”
“I hear you and you matter most right now.”
“Yes, this drives you crazy. We’ll figure this out together.”
3)Deliberately label the problem.
The problem is “Being late all the time”. The problem is “The messy house”. The problem is “Disrespect”. Take that labelled problem and assign a place to it. “You, “Money and Spending” issue, sit on that chair. As funny as this sounds, it works! See the problem outside of yourselves. Tackle it as something impersonal and rather distant. Imagine how you would address the issues if you were seeing it as belonging to someone else.
How would you analyze it? What would your advice be? Work shoulder to shoulder in tackling the problem. See it as the object of your unified problem-solving. What needs changing? How could that happen? What is at the root?
Once you’ve figured out what you would do with your labelled problem, allow it to become personal again and work with it together. You should actually feel triumph and closeness in handling the trouble together. Remember, don’t let that nasty thing come between you!
Three things to do that make a big difference and have you acting collaboratively. Below is a video where I dive a bit deeper into these concepts. Join this week's class on Attachment.
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