In this blog series, we have examined the importance of preparation for healthy marriages and maintaining healthy relationships through learning the skills of communication and conflict resolution. We have looked at possible reasons why we don’t communicate and resolve conflict and reasons why we should communicate and resolve conflict. In this final blog, we will look at how we can communicate and resolve conflict in a safe, loving, and effective manner. Obviously, being able to do it well is the key!
How We Can Communicate and Resolve Conflict
I tend to sum this process up in two phrases: be kind, and be descriptive.
Be kind. You know what the other person’s buttons are, so don’t push them. You know that one thing you could say that would really get them, so don’t say it. Don’t hurt them. If you do, you really are just making it harder for yourself because they won’t be able to listen to you or collaborate with you.
Be descriptive. If you keep it about you, not the other person, and describe your experience of the situation, your feelings/thoughts/wants/needs, and how the situation impacts you, then you will make it much easier for the other person to hear you and take in what you are trying to say. When you are being descriptive, you won‘t be blaming or attacking.
Communication and conflict resolution are critical to healthy relationships. By determining what makes it hard for us to share, considering reasons why it’s better for us if we do, and following guidelines to do it more safely and effectively, we can begin to develop healthier relationships and marriages. It is definitely worth the time, risk, and effort!
Willa Williams is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She works at the Biola Counseling Center as a therapist and at the Biola Center for Marriage and Relationships as a consulting therapist. She has a Master of Arts in Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL) and a Master of Arts in Counseling in Psychology from Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). She is Level 3 Trained in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy. Before coming to Biola, she served overseas at the Spanish Bible Institute in Barcelona, Spain, where she taught a class on counseling skills for pastors and served as the staff therapist for the students. She has been married for more than 30 years and has two teenage children. She has a passion for healthy relationships and enjoys working with couples as well as individuals. She appreciates the immense impact that healthy marriages and relationships have on couples as well as future generations.