Let’s face it, if you are in a relationship for any extended period of time there is going to be conflict. This is actually healthy and something that can move your relationship forward. What turns conflict into a positive experience is how you repair your relationship after a disagreement.
Repair is the process in which you and your partner work towards mending the damage that may have been caused from the conflict. Remember that both people are responsible for the disagreement and that placing the blame solely on the other person will only lead to more conflict and a weakened connection.
Often people believe that all that this boils down to is an apology. While apologizing is the first step in the repair process there are others.
1) Apologize: There are some essential things you need to do when you apologize that make your partner feel like you understand what the problem is and that you are truly sorry for any hurt you may have caused. For starters, you have to say more than just “I’m sorry.” Explain what you are sorry for so that they feel that you really get it. It validates your partner, which will make him or her feel better and increase connection. Next, take responsibility for your role in the conflict and the hurt it may have caused. Finally, let them know how sorry you are for your role in the conflict and for causing them pain. By doing these things the apology feels sincere and will make your partner feel like you understand.
2) Discuss What Happened and Why The Conflict Occured: After you apologized for the conflict, it is important to sit down and talk about what really happened that got both of you upset. I would encourage you to be as honest as possible and express the true root of the problem. Let your partner know how the conflict impacted you and why the topic of the conflict is an issue for you. This is not the place to lay blame on your partner.
3) Rebuild Connection: After a conflict, big or small, taking time to reconnect is important. It helps get things back to normal and doesn’t leave either person feeling worried the state of the relationship. Take some time after you have repaired the relationship to hang out and just chit chat about lighter topics. For example, make a meal together, or go grab a coffee. It doesn’t have to be anything big nor does it have to be a full day commitment (however that is great if it is!) but rather just some time to reconnect and feel good about where things are with the two of you.
4) Discuss What You Are Going To Do Differently Next Time: The best time to talk about a conflict is when you aren’t in the middle of it. After you have both had some time to work through and overcome the issues, sit down and talk about how you are going to deal with this issues when or if it arises again. Discuss how you would like to deal with this issue in the future and what steps you are going to implement now to make sure it unfolds in a healthier, more supportive manner going forward.
Conflict is bound to happen in your relationship but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Help move your relationship forward by repairing after a disagreement.
Happy Connecting Everyone!