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improve communication in a relationship

How To Resolve Conflict And Improve Communication In a Relationship

improve communication in a relationship

 

It may seem obvious to some, but not all, that the best relationships are ones born out of trust and vulnerability.  Each partner approaches one another as an equal. The relationship does not drain its participants: instead, it nourishes. Differences between partners are complementary. These differences are advantageous and desirable and do not create a hindrance to the relationship; instead, they contribute to its growth.

In a healthy relationship, partners draw out untapped possibilities in one another.  So why does it seem so hard to maintain a blissful state of love with a partner over time?

Improve Communication In a Relationship

First of all, every relationship has its ups and downs, and conflict comes with the territory. Yet if you are a daughter of divorce, you may avoid conflict because it may have signified the end of your parents’ marriage. Marriage counselor, Michele Weiner Davis, explains that avoiding conflict backfires in intimate relationships. She posits that bottling up negative thoughts and feelings doesn’t give your partner a chance to change their behavior. On the other hand, she cautions that one of the secrets of a good marriage or romantic relationship is learning to choose battles wisely and to distinguish between petty issues and important ones.

Elizabeth’s Mother’s Day story provides a good example of a hot-button issue that needed to be resolved. Newlyweds Elizabeth and Zane have three children and have been in a committed relationship for many years.  One year, Zane picked up a quick Mother’s Day gift for her at a gas station, and Elizabeth’s feelings were deeply hurt. Because she placed great value on Mother’s Day, Elizabeth decided to take a risk and show her vulnerability to Zane by expressing her disappointment.  Since then, Zane has faithfully purchased a special Mother’s Day gift every year, and Elizabeth feels valued and loved by him.

Secondly, it’s important to stop keeping score and to try not to win every argument, even when you’re in the right. Instead, author Pat Love says, “think of winning an unofficial contest I like to call Who’s the Bigger Person? Resolving conflicts is about who wants to grow the most and what’s best for your relationship.” At the beginning of a relationship, couples tend to focus more on their similarities. Yet after a while, negative projections tend to surface and your partner may remind you of someone from your past. This may explain why some couples who seemed so compatible when they first get together, have more conflicts as time goes by.

Lauren, age 32, explains how identifying her part in communication breakdowns with her husband, Paul, helped save her marriage. “In the past, I used to focus on what Paul was doing wrong until a good friend reminded me that I may want to try harder to communicate my feelings to him without blaming him.”  Lauren realized that she hadn’t learned healthy ways of resolving conflicts from her parents who divorced when she was twelve, a pivotal age for adolescent development and observing your parents’ relationship patterns.

Like all smart women, Lauren realized that all relationships go through rough patches and that it takes two people to contribute to the difficulties. Since she liked being married overall, Lauren decided to focus more on Paul’s positive qualities – such as being a great father – rather than negative ones. “That’s when I noticed that I had a problem communicating. I expected Paul to know what I wanted without me telling him what I needed. When he failed, I’d punish him with the silent treatment, or blow up. When I let go of my efforts to fix him and started working on fixing myself, things began to get better,” she says.

The following steps to resolving conflicts and improving communication may be a starting point to building a fulfilling intimate partnership:

  • Take a risk and deal with hurt feelings – especially if it’s an important issue.
  • Approach conflict with a problem-solving attitude. Avoid trying to prove a point and examine your part in a disagreement.
  • Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements that tend to come across as blameful- such as “I felt hurt when you bought that gift.”
  • Don’t make threats or ultimatums. Avoid saying things you’ll regret the next day.
  • Take a short break if you feel overwhelmed or flooded. This will give you time to calm down and collect your thoughts.

Love also means risking occasionally getting your feelings hurt because it’s the price you pay for intimacy. In all intimate relationships there exist conflicting needs for closeness and space. When issues come up with either of those needs, it’s essential that you talk with your partner and find creative ways to make sure you both feel valued and listened to. Taking the time to work on resolving conflicts in a healthy way is hard work but the payoff is tremendous.

Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Her book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.

Terry’s new book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, will be published by Sounds True in February of 2020.

More from Terry

This blog originally appeared on movingpastdivorce.com

The post How To Resolve Conflict And Improve Communication In a Relationship appeared first on Divorced Moms.



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productive co-parenting communication

Developing Productive Co-Parenting Communication

productive co-parenting communication

 

Parenting can be difficult even in an in-tact household wherein even residing together the time spent together as parents, uninterrupted in thought and time for discussion, results in many discussions occurring through text, email and in passing.

Of course, the hustle and bustle of the world we live in as parents leave much room for errors in schedules, forgotten appointments, and confusion as to who is where. This is even more difficult for two parents who do not reside together yet share in one mutual goal- raising and being involved in their children’s schedules and lives on an equal basis.

Productive Co-Parenting Communication

Married or not, raising children takes a lot of communication. Unfortunately, communication in relationships that have broken down for one reason or the other is made even more difficult and can create a host of issues for couples attempting to co-parent absent a close relationship or any at all for that matter. As family law attorneys, we are often faced with questions, concerns and issues from our client stemming from the lack of communication, i.e. the other side not providing information or not being responsive.

Other times, the absence of communication is used to assert control and intentionally keep the other parent out of the loop. On the other hand, some parents utilize communication in a manner which is harassing such as incessantly texting, calling, or making things difficult. Either way, the reality is that communication in strained relationships can be incredibly difficult and as a result, children suffer by missing activities, homework assignments, family outings, etc.

Therefore, focusing on simple ways to communicate, absent the need to involve lawyers and judges, is the most productive and cost-effective way to co-parent when the relationship with the other parent is less than ideal. The reality is that the involvement of lawyers and the court’s not only costs thousands of dollars, but there is also a delay in resolution by virtue of the time needed for everyone to respond.

Therefore, it is simply not practical on any level to require the use of your lawyer to communicate about everyday issues regarding your children.

It is significant to note that communication is one of the primary statutory factors the courts consider in determining custody and parenting time arrangements. Moreover, just not getting along is not enough to prove that two adults cannot communicate in a manner which would cause a court to minimize either parent’s role.

In fact, the New Jersey Supreme Court has long held that joint legal custody is the “preferred” custody arrangement and that this requires sharing the responsibility for jointly making “major” decisions regarding the child’s welfare, developing a productive way of communication is key to the success of not only the co-parenting relationship but the children’s success overall.

That being said, family law attorneys, as well as Judge’s, are mindful of the difficulties parent’s may have communicating during less than ideal times. Therefore, the focus and trend have been to encourage the use of apps that parties can utilize to limit and focus the communication to just the issues versus the text message and/or email chains that seemingly increase in hostility with the back and forth involved.

For example, one method of communication often utilized by co-parents, either by way of agreement or more frequently now being Court Ordered, is Our Family Wizard.  Our Family Wizard obviously cannot circumvent the use of communication as a weapon in contested or tension ridden co-parenting relationships, however, it is designed to assist parents by having categories that limit and narrow the issues and minimize the probability of misinterpretation of miscommunication.

Parents can download the children’s schedules, they can monitor parenting time changes in their schedules, and even scan in the children’s expenses, none of which can be altered if needed for use in Court. In other words, it is a protected forum which allows communication between parents about the issues relating to their children and provides clearer documentation in the event that communication (or lack of same) is the overriding issue.

In sum, learning and finding a way to communicate is essential to raising children regardless of the status of your relationship. Utilizing applications such as Cozi, Our Family Wizard, Truece, and other applications which permit scanning, scheduling and limit the opportunity for emotions to supersede the issues is beneficial to everyone’s quality of life, especially and most importantly the children involved.

The post Developing Productive Co-Parenting Communication appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Narcissistic Ex? Here are 5 Communication Tips

Narcissistic Ex? Here are 5 Communication Tips

What do narcissists want more than anything? Approval and adulation from others. So if you really need something from him, you may have to compliment him.

The post Narcissistic Ex? Here are 5 Communication Tips appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Children and Divorce: 3 Tips for Positive Communication During Divorce

Children and Divorce: 3 Tips for Positive Communication During Divorce

If you haven’t learned by now, then it is time you know, the healthy way to deal with stress is to communicate about the issues that are causing the stress. This is true regardless of what age a person is. Your child may be feeling anger, fear or sadness, and unsafe when it comes to expressing those feelings.

The post Children and Divorce: 3 Tips for Positive Communication During Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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