A key principle to successful conflict resolution is to proactively create an environment of love, trust and refuge. I like to think of it as a ‘goodwill’ bank account that is available to draw on in times of conflict. As you invest in the relationship, you will reap the rewards when you need those deep reserves of goodwill.
We begin to build goodwill when we demonstrate appreciation for our partner. Instead of nagging, scolding and belittling be lavish with a thank you, praise and words of affirmation.
Find ways to spend time together, without other distractions. Have fun. Go for walks, hikes, coffee, dinner out – all without the children. Or go away someplace for a day or a weekend where you can connect and talk about topics other than work, current conflicts or even children. Be creative with what fits you and your personalities.
My husband Ken and I try to take 15-20 minutes every day to play a backgammon match – but no gambling! We are very competitive, but we laugh a lot and the relaxed environment allows us to occasionally speak about more serious issues at the same time.
Another thing Ken and I have done for most of our 36 years is to read books together. We usually go out for coffee to eliminate the distractions of our home, and read a portion of the book, then discuss the contents. It has generated great discussions that sometimes go on for days. It has helped us see into each other’s hearts and has drawn us closer together.
Building into the relationship takes time but will prevent many conflicts from even happening.
Whatever you do, be proactive and plan how you will create an environment that builds oneness and allows the relationship to flourish.