Learning to Manage Conflict in Relationships: Part II
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Last week we explored Criticism, the first of the four horsemen to be aware of when learning how to manage conflict in marriage. Check out Part II of what we have to say about Managing Conflict and marriage below:
The second of the four horsemen, stonewalling is just as it sounds. When learning to manage conflict in relationships, it is important to understand that stonewalling is an avoidance or refusal to address or communicate about an issue or conflict. To the other partner, stonewalling often feels as though they are “talking to a brick wall”. In his research, Dr. Gottman found that 85 percent of men used stonewalling as a way of dealing with conflict, yet they did not realize that this was a very destructive strategy. Men often use a distancing technique to cope with high levels of emotion. Remember that withdrawing from an argument does not solve it and “parallel living” has been found to be a consequence of this behavior over the longer term. Parallel living leads to a pulling away from a relationship, leaving it vulnerable to outside forces. Stonewalling also leads to increased conflict and major melt downs when the non-stonewaller begins to chase the stonewaller about an issue. At some point the stonewaller reacts with rage, often leading the couple to a regrettable incident. Antidotes to Stonewalling are as follows: Resist the temptation to withdraw –stay with your partner emotionally. Look for the good in each other. Make time for positive experiences. Don’t ignore your partner and give some sort of response even if it is just a nod or a brief reply. Further, it is important to practice good self care to avoid stonewalling. We often stonewall because we are anxious about conflict. Conflict causes anxiety for many of us. In order to better manage the anxiety of dealing with difficult issues, it is important to practice good self care like getting a good night sleep, exercising frequently, and maintaining a healthy diet. Avoidance is okay in a relationship as long as you are avoiding stonewalling.
Stay tuned to learn about the other two horseman: defensiveness and contempt.
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