Hating how they chew and 10 helpful conflict resolution strategies
Divorce rates in China have spiked following self-isolation. Have you ever spent 24 hours solidly with you partner day after day? By now you may be doing two things; 1) ignoring them as much as possible through zoning out, or 2) there is already building tension, and arguments. So what can you do to get through this?
1) Know it is inevitable. No matter how much you love each other and almost certainly if you are feeling a little disconnected and stressed in the relationship, it will be intense to be locked away together. As conflict is inevitable, it is not necessarily a reflection of your relationship - or the other person - or how loudly they chew - but rather how you, as a couple, manage that conflict that really matters.
2) You might be hangry. Seriously. I'm not trying to get you to eat through your reserves, just saying make sure you are drinking water regularly and eating little and often. We are often much meaner to our partners and family than we would be to our colleagues, so don't let yourself go hungry.
3) Conflict can actually be an opportunity for you to understand your loved ones better, and you may find you even come to know yourself better if you change how you manage conflict. Pay attention to who is starting the conflict and why. If it is you then have you taken time to yourself to understand what feelings are going on for you right now? If it is someone else then...
4) ... do not hear an attack. Hear "information" that is said in frustration. If you hear an attack, you will go into defensive mode and then the opportunity is lost to a battle ground. Know that your loved one is under stress and it is seeping out and they are struggling to be their best selves. Get curious. Why are they feeling so frustrated that they have expressed it like that? What support do they need right now?
5) Be your best self. When I feel attacked, I will defend myself and (although I take probably an unhealthy amount of pride in my ability to do so) it is not necessarily me being my best self. Take a breath, know that you are OK, and listen to your loved one whilst they work through their frustration.
6) Let go of being right or wrong. What really matters are your feelings and we all have those. Your feelings may be different to how your partner is feeling. Both your feelings and their feelings are valid, so it is not as simple as right or wrong. It is about how you both can feel better out of the situation. Stick to "I" statements: "I feel annoyed when I see dirty mugs by the sink" or "I am too stressed to deal with this right now, can we talk about this later?"
7) Pay attention to your underlying emotions. Rather than blame your feelings on your partner, know that this conflict is probably happening because something has been triggered for you. Have you spent time trying to understand what your feelings are? Your feelings are telling you something and it is your job to figure out what. It is not your partner's job, not your family's job, it is your job. Taking responsibility for this instead of expecting someone else to read your mind or to fix things will be the biggest gift you can give to your loved ones, and to yourself. Getting stressed, frustrated or angry is an indication that you need to take time out for yourself. So take time out. Even if it's only five minutes to check in with yourself.
8) When listening try not to make suggestions or fix things. Simply listen. You don't need to start talking as soon as they have finished speaking. Take the information in and allow it to be heard. Start with a phrase like "so it sounds like..." to check you understand what they are really saying, followed by, "is that right?"
9) Don't spend a long time on the conflict, circling over and over the same frustrations. If they are upset and it is directed at you, ask them "what do you need to feel better about this?" and if you are the one who is upset, you need to be really brave and ask for what you need. "I feel... and I need". If you are struggling to think straight simply say "I feel upset and I need a hug/ or some time to make sense of it".
10) Make time for each other. Just because you are living together doesn't mean you are giving each other quality time. Have a date night, turn up the romance, check in with them about how they are feeling and really listen. Connect, laugh and relax with each other.
However you are feeling, it is OK. You are OK, your partner is OK and you can get through this. If you are struggling to manage your conflict or your feelings, you can talk to me. I am currently offering a power hour session for only £45 to get you back on track.