Every relationship has its fair share of struggles and problems, but that’s to be expected – we all have different personalities, and it’s easy for those personalities to clash at times. But, instead of getting into explosive arguments that can lead to pain in the relationship itself, it’s important to understand how to negotiate our differences, and use problem-solving skills to work through them, rather than fight to push them under the rug.
Let’s take a look at a few ways you can use negotiation in your relationship to get past your differences, and come to a common solution to solve any issues that may come up at any given time.
Listening seems easy enough in conversation and negotiation, but that’s because most people consider listening and hearing to be the same thing. Actually, they are two very different things! Hearing is something that happens naturally, while listening is something that requires effort. The problem arises in the fact typically, active listening isn’t a normal conversation pattern, so we have to teach ourselves how to do it, especially in relationships. Listening involves hearing, processing, and understanding, before you say anything yourself.
Your Partner Isn’t The Enemy
You can’t solve a problem if you feel as though you’re both on different teams. You are together for a reason, and ultimately, any problems that may arise will be problems for both of you: So, you’re both trying to fix the same problem, you just have different ways of doing it. Understand that it’s the problem that’s the enemy, not your partner, and you’ll be able to have a clearer head in discussing options with them.
Let Go Of The Problem Once It’s Solved
Ultimately, if you both have different ways of solving a problem, someone is eventually going to have to give in, at least a little. If it’s you, it’s important that you don’t hold that against your partner, or feel as though you have some kind of ‘credit’ to use the next time an issue comes up because you were the one to give in this time. Once you’ve negotiated a solution in a way that works for you, it’s important to let it go, right then and there, or you run the risk of holding onto resentment for a long time.
We all come from different backgrounds, and do things differently – that doesn’t just happen in romantic relationships, but in families, friendships, and even in the workplace. When you practice a few simple skills and keep a few important lessons in mind (listening, etc.), you can begin to understand more clearly how to negotiate effectively, and responsibly. And when you start practicing those skills, problem solving becomes far less stressful and overwhelming for everyone involved. Negotiate your differences of opinion, instead of attacking them, and you’ll be amazed how quickly things can usually get resolved.
I have been working with couples, practicing couples therapy in Pasadena for over fifteen years. As your therapist, I will help you understand the underlying conflict and how each partner contributes to it.