When Aaron and I married we thought of a lot of things that might affect our marriage, the age difference, money, my moving to Ireland etc. One of the things we never thought about though was how we would come to term with our differences or resolve them. Conflict resolution is something every person in a relationship should know how to do.
It did not help matters that neither one of us was very good at conflict resolution. I know I did not grow up in a family with parents who were very good at it and I don’t think Aaron did either. After about I would say two arguments we decided we better learn how to argue with each other.
When we have had disagreements they are never over big things but the fact that we did not know how to argue with each other meant they could escalate to a point where they never should. As I try and look back over most of our disagreements they seem to happen when we have had bad days, are over tired, frustrated over situations not necessarily having to do with us or simply not understanding what the other person is saying.
One of the major things that has helped us learn to resolve our differences is by not thinking who is right or wrong but rather what the other person's wishes or needs are. It sounds a lot easier than it is when for the most part you have always been able to think of only yourself and your wants. Years ago a business partner gave me what I considered was a valuable piece of advice that I always try and follow. I have told it to Aaron and we try and follow it with ourselves and other people. It is before you say something nasty to anyone think about it for 24 hours because once the words are out you can never take them back. Even if you apologise the words are now out there.
Aaron and I have never talked about this but something we have never done and I am so thankful we have not, is to stoop to low blows with each other. We never call each other names, we are never sarcastic, we never joke or tease one another in a mean way or intentionally try to hurt the other person.
We have talked about what I call, “tit or tat.” Basically this is when one of us has had something to say that has bothered them and the other retaliates by saying what bothers them. We try and discuss one thing at a time. When people play, “tit for tat,” I believe the situation escalates with partners getting angrier at each other. Aaron and I try to resolve one problem at a time.
I know I am more apt to get irritated by small things than Aaron. What helps me manage these situations a great deal is to remind myself how much I love him and how wonderful a person he is and ask myself why whatever it is bothers me. When I do this the problem regardless of what it is usually disappears, It is almost always not that important of an issue, but not always. When it doesn’t go away I really try to think about it for a day or two and think about what is going on with me that I feel the way I do and usually the answer will come to me. It is also usually never anything serious. Then I will try and explain it to Aaron. I try and pick a time when he is relaxed and feels like talking.
As I said above I am usually the one to get irritated. Many times I should not, but for whatever reason I do. Although Aaron is more easier going than me it bugs me to no end when I feel he is trying to shut me up by okaying me. The two of us have talked about this and the importance of hearing what the other person is saying. One of the reasons it is so important to me that Aaron listens to me is often even if he hears what I am saying our languages, (English and Irish,) are so different that he doesn’t understand what I really mean. I think it is so important to be able to have a dialogue with each other when when we are upset. If we don't talk and understand each other most likely the same issue will come up again.
Talking and discussing your problems, disagreements or whatever you would like to call them is so important. I know in any relationship I have had where this was not possible the relationship was bound to end. Avoiding your problems will not work. If you can argue constructively and learn to work out the differences it is not only healthy but will give you a chance at a fulfilling relationship. We also try and never go to bed angry. If we have we still tell the other we love them.
There are obviously many ways to resolve conflicts. So far we have had pretty good fortune resolving ours using our tricks of the trade. As I have been writing this Blog I have been trying to think of arguments we have had. So few come to mind. The ones that do seem to be when one of us has hurt the other by other accident. I also notice our disagreements come less and less. Two reasons for this. One we had never really lived together before we married so there was a huge learning curve for both of us and two we both really try and understand how the other is feeling.
I used to have so many fears when I had a problem with Aaron but the more we talk and try and work out any problems we have,the better we feel about each other. It has become easier and easier for us to talk to one another as we move on. We have also become more and more secure in our relationship and the love we have for each other. I honestly believe we are two of the luckiest people in the world