By Jeff Herring | Submitted On September 02, 2005
Conflict in a relationship is both normal and painful. In working with couples I have found that it’s the successful resolution of the conflict that strengthens the couple’s bond and brings them closer together. The resolution comes only by walking through the conflict and not around it.
There is so much that can cause conflict, everything from the big five:
all the way to the proper way to wash and dry dishes.
While conflict can be incredibly painful, a crucial point to keep in mind is that much of conflict springs from unmet emotional needs.
Let’s illustrate this point with a couple I have worked with on this particular issue. One of her primary emotional needs is to feel secure. When she feels insecure, she act aggressively and angrily. One of her partner’s primary emotional needs is to feel appreciated. When he feels unappreciated, he behaves irresponsibly, usually spending too much money. In the past, this set up quite a vicious cycle for the couple.
This time the issue was money. Next time it could be about something else. The real conflict is about unmet emotional needs.
What this couple has learned to do to break this cycle is simply ask some questions early on in the pattern. He has learned to ask ‘What are you feeling scared about?’ She has learned to ask, ‘In what ways are you feeling unappreciated?’
By asking questions about unmet emotional needs, many conflicts can be resolved, and even better, avoided altogether.
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