Do you find it challenging at times to resolve conflicts with your spouse? Are you unsure on what you can do to resolve those conflicts when you both come across them? To help understand common mistakes couples make when trying to resolve a conflict and creative ways to resolve conflicts with your spouse, I have interviewed therapist Rene Lewellyn, M.A., MFT.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Brentwood, Northern California. I graduated from the University of San Francisco and was always interested in private practice. I particularly enjoy the challenge of working with couples, children and families.”
What are some common mistakes that couples make when trying to resolve a conflict?
“One common mistake is avoiding addressing issues and allowing them to build up until they become more complicated and then seem unresolvable. Partners also often engage in playing the blame game and focusing on trying to prove that they are right, a common pitfall which is often a no win proposition because if one partner is “right” it leaves only one position for the other, the one who is wrong and no one wants to wear that hat.”
What type of impact can those mistakes have on the marriage?
“Avoiding problems and allowing them to build up tends to breed resentment in the relationship. Fault finding and blaming serves to pit the partners against each other instead of working to find common ground or a common purpose, which aids in building connections rather than tearing at the fabric of the relationship. Over time, inability to learn to effectively resolve conflicts tends to leave partners feeling distanced from each other, missing a sense of being connected and ultimately limits partner’s ability to experience true intimacy in the relationship. These partners tend not to experience the level of satisfaction that can be attained in relationships where partners are able to have the sense of trust when conflicts arise, as in life and relationships they will, they can be worked out in a reasonable and satisfactory manner.”
What are some creative ways a couple can resolve conflicts in their marriage?
“Well one of the first requirements is that partners learn to communicate effectively with each other. In effective communication, partners trust that they can be vulnerable enough with each other to speak honestly and openly and in a way that they are not going to destroy each other emotionally. Conflict resolution requires being able to talk to each other so that each partner feels heard, understood and validated, even when there is disagreement. Without this level of communication, the next step of resolving problems is much more difficult. Also, it is important that couples learn the art of a little give and take. Partners needs to know what things for them are truly non-negotiable and where they can compromise so that not everything becomes a battleground. Additionally, a little humor can sometimes go a long way. In other words, sometimes using laughter to break the ice can be useful. Also, the old cliches about kissing and making up did not become cliches for nothing. Being able to let go and make up is important.”
What type of professional help is available for a couple that is having a difficult time resolving conflicts in their marriage?
“Couples therapy can be a very helpful option in relationships where partners have been ineffective in resolving conflicts on their own. The skills learned in couple’s treatment often help partners experience much more satisfaction in their relationships. While some people prefer to do this individually with a therapist, others might find it helpful to seek therapy in a couple’s group setting. There are also many good books and internet resources to aid couples who are finding it hard to work out their differences.”
Thank you Rene for doing the interview on creative ways couples can resolve conflict in their marriage. For more information on Rene Lewellyn or her work you can check out her website www.renelewellynmft.com or contact her at 925-634-3821.
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