What really makes relationships work
What I am going to look at is a very important subject – namely, how to survive marriage and even more, sustain a solid marriage. Sex can play a major part, but that is not what I am going to discuss here (sorry if I am disappointing anyone!).
Relationships need love, but, to survive marriage, they also need to be worked at.
It’s easy enough to get on with your partner when everything is going smoothly. Unfortunately, life is rarely smooth. Disagreements inevitably arise.
Managing conflict is therefore key. Conflicts are not enjoyable, but they are healthy (at least, communication must be taking place!).
I’d like to suggest a few ways in which you can manage conflict.
Some simple strategies
- Try and avoid blaming your partner. Explain your point of view calmly and be prepared to listen and compromise.
- Don’t go calling your partner names. Respect is an integral part of a relationship, and calling them “stupid” or “lazy”, say, isn’t going to help.
- Don’t go silent, even if it avoids conflict (in the short-term). You need to validate your partner by responding, which shows you are listening (you don’t have to be agreeing).
- Focus on the matter at hand. Take one issue at a time! Stick to the particular incident or issue (rather than vaguely saying something like, “That’s typical. You never help out”). Incidentally, you should not allow a build-up of issues – deal with them individually as they arise!
These tips – valuable as they are – are only meant as a beginning. They are quite easy to follow, and can help repair relationships as well as prevent break-downs. Respect is probably the vital ingredient in managing conflict.
Michael Gordon is a celebrant based in London.