Mike: This is Mike Hennessy. And on behalf of the team at LoveEvolveandThrive.com, I am pleased to welcome you to today’s interview with Karla Downing. Karla Downing is a licensed marriage and family therapist and the founder of ChangeMyRelationship.com. Go to www.ChangeMyRelationship.com for more information.
Karla Downing, it's a pleasure to have you with us today.
Karla: It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.
Mike: Karla, in any relationship conflict is going to be inevitable and it is often how we deal with conflict that can make or break the relationship. One of the big problems women face when they engage in conflict is when their man shuts down, withdraws and becomes silent. Can you talk about things women can do that can help them better resolve conflict and draw a man closer? Can you also talk about mistakes to avoid that can actually worsen the situation and draw the man away?
There are major differences in how women and men view and resolve conflict. Taking these into consideration will help you approach conflict in a way that works.
Men: Solve problems and want to get to the bottom line.
Women: Talk about things to get understanding and be understood
Men: Talk to resolve things
Women: Talk to process feelings
Men: Heart rate goes up quickly anytime you have a serious discussion
Women: Talking often calms them
Men: Logical and rational
Women: Tend to be emotional
Men: Talking about the relationship means it's not working
Women: Talking about the relationship means it's going great
Men: Say what they mean
Women: Mean more than they say
Men: Admitting a mistake means losing honor
Women: Need an apology to heal
Men: Motivated to change by appreciation and approval
Women: Motivated to change by confrontation and discussion
So, what does this mean when you have conflict :
Recognize he is going to want to get to the conclusion of the discussion as quickly as possible so try to get to the heart of the issue instead of talking on and on.
He is going to see the conflict as negative and want to avoid it so make it as positive as possible.
When you want to confront him on something, do it in a way that engages his help rather than complaining that he is the problem. Men are vulnerable to feeling incompetent so when you complain, they feel like failures, feel attacked and then resist you and your complaint.
You goal is to resolve the issue to improve the relationship. So even if you don’t get to do it the way you want, if you get resolution and/or understanding, you have been successful.
You will ruin the relationship if you fight about everything that bothers you.
Always ask yourself: “How important is this?”
If it isn’t that important and you decide it is a little thing, let it go. If you can’t let it go, decide to bring it up at the right time, but in a way that makes it as positive as possible.
You always have a part in the problem, even if it is only your attitude or reaction. Let the change begin with you. Let him know that you see your part and are acknowledging it and working on it.
When you approach conflict as right/wrong meaning “I am right and you are wrong,” you are operating under the fallacy that there is only one way to look at the issue and that you have that right way.
It’s not right vs. wrong; it is getting mutual understanding. When you approach conflict by learning about your partner’s needs, personality, feelings, past experiences, and current perspective, it brings you closer together. Seek to understand and to be understood rather than trying to make your partner admit he is wrong and you are right.
Have a game plan for resolving conflict that works for your relationship. Understand your individual conflict styles including your land mines. Have a plan that includes adjusting your individual styles to make conflict resolution a force for good in your relationship.
Here are some possible maneuvers:
· Specify a mutually agreed on time to talk.
· Allow time outs.
· Structure conflict to allow both people to be heard.
· Agree not to bring up irrelevant past stuff.
· Specify what isn’t allowed.
· Have an agreement for when to get outside help from a third party.
Purposefully do positive things before, during, and after the conflict: Do something nice that your partner likes. Be affectionate through touch, smiles, and words. Exhibit positive non-verbal body language. Offer a compliment and use humor to lighten things up.
You can make conflict a source for good in your relationship, if you handle it in a way that brings you together.
And this is Mike Hennessy. And on behalf of the team at LoveEvolveandThrive.com, I’d like to thank you for listening to our interview and wish you the very best in your relationships.
Our guest today was Karla Downing, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Change My Relationship at www.ChangeMyRelationship.com.
For free tips and insights on relationship advice for women from hundreds of experts and authors, please visit our website at www.LoveEvolveandThrive.com.