Conflict and Resolution Tips

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Cheating, Infidelity And Why It Happens

Is it important to discover why people cheat in their relationships? Will this actually stop cheating and sustain partnerships? Knowledge and information is power, so the more people realize some of the reasons people cheat on each other, the more they can keep their relationship whole and happy.

Here are some of the reasons people cheat and signs to watch in your relationship:

- One spouse feels like the only thing they are doing is taking care of the kids and home with cooking, cleaning and car-pooling. The partnership aspect of the marriage is gone so they seek emotional satisfaction from others.

- A spouse cheats because the other spouse has stopped listening. Their sentences are cut off in mid-stream or they leave the room while you are talking.

- Spouses emotionally shut themselves down and try to escape with something easy. Cheating and infidelity is not unlike taking drugs. Drugs numb the pain and cheating is an escape mechanism from the real problems of the marriage.

- Sexual problems are one of the biggest reasons spouses cheat. One spouse may not feel the monogamous relationship of marriage is fulfilling. There are many flavors of ice cream in the world and you may not want to eat vanilla for the rest of your life.

For couples to survive cheating, it boils down to finding respect and love for the person you married. Come from that place within yourself and get professional help if necessary. Open up an honest dialogue with your spouse to make the relationship work.

   

Managing Conflict For Personal And Professional Problems

Managing conflict is a necessary part of every personal and professional relationship. Conflicts can range from a small disagreement at work to the larger problem of infidelity in a marriage. According to Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC, “ Conflict can result in either problem-solving and resolution, or an all-out war! Conflictual scenarios can prevent collaboration and cause relationship breakdown unless you have the skills to manage it.”

Conflict management in relationships is difficult because emotions play such a large part in the problem. Follow these guidelines to achieve the best resolution to any relationship problem.

- Take the time to consider all the responses and real issues at hand. Try not to let the problem escalate into something bigger than it really is. Couples have a tendency to bring other petty grievances into a discussion when they don't really have anything to do with the problem at hand.

- Don't feel pressured to resolve the conflict on the spot. Be patient and listen to each other.

- Don't let misunderstandings filter into the problem. Be clear and concise about the issue. Repeat back to the partner what you understand they are saying to you. If you have misunderstood, the partner can make it clearer.

- If you were hurt by a situation, explain your viewpoint and ask that things be different in the future.

- Be open and honest regarding the situation. Get your cards out on the table immediately.

   

Signs Your Spouse is Cheating

Sometimes, the knowledge that a spouse is cheating is sudden and obvious -- for instance, discovering the errant couple in mid-tryst. Other times, you may need to look for signs that your partner is including an affair in his or her daily life. Signs of a cheating spouse may include: -- Sudden interest in appearance, including showering more often and going to the gym.
-- Unusual loss of interest in sex OR abrupt revival of sexual desire.
-- Suddenly showering you with gifts (usually motivated by guilt).
-- Picking fights with you (thus giving him or her a reason to storm out of the house and meet a lover).
-- Emotional disturbances such as moodiness, sleep problems, inattention to work or children. -- Money being spent that isn't well accounted for.

   

“I Confess” – Two Of The Toughest Words

If you find yourself as an unfaithful partner in a relationship, how important is it to hear yourself say, “I confess”. If you want to make the relationship work and end the affair, confession can be good for the soul, but think it through clearly, before you announce it to your partner.

Confessing infidelity could end your relationship. Don't confess to make yourself feel better. You are the one at fault, own up to it within yourself and think it through before speaking. First, you must be prepared for the actions that will follow the confession. Your partner will not be happy and things could get ugly so know exactly what you plan to do to rectify the problem. Let the partner know that you want the relationship to work. Do not blurt out any details of the affair, just stay calm and keep emotions out of it as much as possible.

The timing of the confession is as important as the confession itself. Make sure you have enough time and are alone with your spouse. The children should be out of the house. This is not a time to be impulsive and blurt out your indiscretions in a restaurant.

Face the damage you may have done to the trust of the partnership. Acknowledge how you have hurt your partner and give them time to process the information in their minds and hearts. Have at hand the names and phone numbers of some marital counselors. Marriages and partnerships can get through infidelity with a lot of work and healing.

   

Resolve Relationship Conflicts Using Feng Shui

Relationship conflicts are inevitable in any type of personal partnership. It is fun and easy to use Feng Shui, the Chinese art of placement, to resolve issues before they escalate into something more destructive. Here are some tips to enhancing your relationship using the techniques of Feng Shui:

  • The best place to start is the bedroom. Are you still sleeping on a mattress or bedding that was used with another partner? Eliminate these items from past relationships and purchase something new for your current partner.
  • The colors of pink and green for bedding or decorating open the heart and enhance communication.
  • The headboard of the bed should be tall and sturdy. This alleviates any feelings of lack of support for each other.
  • There must be at least two nightstands, pillows and lamps as this supports the feeling of equality in the relationship.
  • Place a happy photo of you and your partner prominently in the bedroom.
  • Throw away old love letters, dried floral arrangements or memorabilia from past partners. There is not a good reason to keep this old energy of the past relationship.
  • If a spouse has passed away, give personal items to the children for safekeeping.
  • Do keep a journal to document your partnership and see how it is growing. Refer to it often and communicate openly with each other before conflicts escalate.
Create a feeling of warmth and relaxation in the home through these Feng Shui principles and conflicts in relationships may just fade away.

   

Relationship Conflicts Teach Us Lessons

What are the first two reactions couples have in relationship conflicts? They will stay and confront the situation or they will run away. This is the typical fight or flight response. We have this instinct within us when it comes to problems and crisis. According to Dr. Margaret Paul, “ Conflict does not get resolved when the stress response takes over. Learn how to manage conflict in loving ways and to heal the fear that activates your fight or flight response.”

There are some techniques and strategies to stay and calmly resolve any relationship conflict. The first moment of tense conflict between two people requires a breathing time. Walk away from the situation for a few minutes and become grounded. This isn't running away, you are collecting your thoughts and keeping emotions at bay. When you are calm, any conflict can be resolved without fights, shouting, accusations or blame.

Every problem has a reason behind it. There are no accidents in life, so look deep within and try to see what the problem is trying to teach you. If you have a relationship crisis about money, are you really feeling insecurities about love? If you have conflicts regarding the children, are old patterns of how your parents treated you coming to the surface? Learn from conflict by removing the fear and you will soon heal the problem and the conflict will be resolved.

   
What are some of the signs of toxic conflict?

Avoiding Conflict, Managing Conflict

It's very common for this "flooding" to occur in serious conversations -- conversations about pleasant things, like what to do with the tax refund, as well as difficult things such as cheating or child-rearing.
A conflict that involves violence -- even if it is directed at a physical object rather than a person -- is by its very nature toxic. So is a conflict in which one or both partners are impaired by alcohol or drug use. It is impossible to resolve a problem productively in these situations.
If a conflict turns toxic, the best thing to do is disengage. Take a break, go for a walk, call a friend, do whatever you need to do to feel safe and get your emotions under control. If you can, communicate this to your partner and set up a time to re-engage: "I'm really overwhelmed right now. I'm going for a walk, and I'd like to return to this conversation tomorrow when I've had a chance to process some of my feelings."

   

Confronting A Partner The Right Way

No one wants to believe his or her spouse is having an affair. Confronting a partner about infidelity may be one of the hardest things you will ever do in a relationship. When you confront the partner with information you or others have gathered, it is not automatic for them to confess and will generally lie. According to Sean Keefer, JD in domestic relations and child custody, “Many people don't realize that the incorrect reaction to a cheating spouse or partner can actually cause more problems for you.” Here are some tips for confronting your spouse in the most positive light to achieve the best possible outcome.

- Be as certain as possible of the facts. Confrontation on suspicions alone may make the situation worse and create paranoia and doubt.

- Stay calm and keep your emotions at bay. An initial confrontation must be without violence.

- Try not to ‘accuse'. State the findings calmly and wait for the response.

- Be prepared to listen to the response before you start talking again. You may think you know all of the facts, but be open to how your spouse responds. They might surprise you.

- Be ready for an open dialogue with your partner. Infidelity happens for a reason and you must be open to hearing the reason.

- Know prior to the confrontation what you want to have happen. Are you prepared to kick them out, move out yourself or call an attorney?

- Be open to professional assistance before the confrontation - get counseling or go to a support group.

   

Fairness In Conflict And Fights

Almost every couple experiences conflicts, arguments and even crisis throughout a personal relationship. Emotions run high during financial, family or infidelity issues. Establishing fairness in conflict resolution is important to keep the relationship intact. Couples must find a way to resolve conflict with as much fairness and respect as possible.

The first step to having a ‘fair fight' is to come from a loving place. Stay grounded and remember that once you say something, it cannot be taken back. The purpose of the fight should be to reconcile differences and resolve the conflict. Most fights bring out vulnerability in people. Do not take advantage of that vulnerability even if your buttons are pushed. Establish fighting ground rules early in the relationship. Try to remember that fighting is an alarm to issues that require attention for growth. Don't keep secrets or hidden agendas during a fight. Get it all out on the table, but stay on point. Do not confuse the issue with little things that are ‘nagging' you. Keep the past out of any argument and stay on the present conflict at hand.

If you remember a few of these points during a fight, even the most difficult conflict can be resolved with respect, fairness and love for each other.

   

How Marriages Survive Cheating

Why do people cheat in a marriage? Cheating is the result of many factors but usually doesn't happen impulsively or overnight. Even the most impulsive one night stand does not just happen. When spouses think they need to change sexual partners, what they really need to do is change themselves, the way they look at the marriage and how they feel about it. It is better to be yourself in a marriage than to pretend everything is ok. More honesty and open communication will go a long way to restoring what is wrong in the marriage.

In order for a marriage to survive cheating, the offending spouse has to accept responsibility. Blaming the other spouse by saying, “you drove me away from our marriage” or “it's your fault that I was unfaithful” is definitely a way to blow up a marriage. Why would anyone apologize for something that is the other spouse's fault? Ownership is necessary to fix any problem. After the offending spouse's apology, this does not let the ‘victimized' spouse off the hook. There are definite reasons the partner has cheated on the marriage vows, and the non-offending spouse must be open to their part of the equation. Once both partners take ownership of their part in the problem, healing and rebuilding the relationship can begin.

   

Signs Of A Cheating Spouse

Cheating can happen in any relationship and at any time. “It is estimated that 53% of all people will have one or more affairs during their lifetime”. Partners in healthy relationships don't suspect affairs, but there are tell tale signs of infidelity. If your intuition tells you that something is wrong in the relationship and you suspect your partner of infidelity, these guidelines may help you determine the truth.

- Cheaters often feel guilty after an affair and they become very attentive to the spouse. This attentive behavior can appear unexpectedly or be out of character. However, a cheating spouse may lose all attentiveness or interest in the home and family.

- A cheater often spends more money so keep an eye on credit card statements, check stubs and bank account balances.

- Monitor the spouse for a few weeks. Keep track of mileage on the car and phone them at work. Keep a journal of your findings to establish a pattern.

- Listen at home when the phone rings. If the spouse is whispering, gives quick answers or hangs up immediately your suspicion should be aroused.

- Check the phone number register on your spouse's cell phone. Is there a frequently called number that isn't familiar to you?

- Hygienic habits may change when there is infidelity. A cheater may workout more, buy new clothes or switch perfumes.

   
We're having a lot of trouble hearing each other. Is there something we can do to have a productive discussion?

A Technique for Tough Conflicts

If the two of you are caught in a pattern of anger and can't seem to make yourselves heard, this technique may help. It is often practiced with a therapist, and will probably feel stiff and difficult at first.

1. Partner A speaks, without interruption, about the problem at hand, until he or she is finished. Partner B rephrases what has just been said, without judgement or comment, just reflecting back what was said.

Partner A can add information. Partner B can ask questions to clarify. The process continues until B can state A's point of view to A's satisfaction. Then repeat with the roles reversed.

2. Pause for 60 seconds of silence.

3. Partner B states the similarities or areas of agreement between the two initial statements. A rephrases what has just been said, without judgment or comment.

B can add information. A can ask questions to clarify. The process continues until A can state B's view of the similarities to B's satisfaction. Repeat with the roles reversed.

4. Pause for 60 seconds of silence.

5. What would happen if you could wave a magic wand over this situation? A answers this question without interruption. B rephrases what has just been said, and the same process continues until B can state A's wish to A's satisfaction. Then repeat with the roles reversed.

The point of this exercise is to take some of the "heat" out of managing conflict by pointing you both towards the areas on which you do agree, and some things you may be able to do to change the situation with your partner's full agreement.

   
What are some signs my relationship is in trouble?

Red Flags

There are some situations in which is is impossible to have a fair fight. In these cases you may need to remove yourself from the situation, either temporarily or permanently. They include:

-- When one partner is active in an addiction. A partner who is in recovery may be gaining the skills needed for managing conflict, but for the active addict, no relationship will ever be more important than the next fix.

-- When physical or emotional abuse has made one partner afraid of the other. No one can fight fairly or establish healthy boundaries in an atmosphere of fear.

-- When one or both partners are suffering from untreated anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses. Be aware that treatment, whether with drugs or therapy or both, may take time to take effect.

   
How can we respect one another even when we're angry?

Fighting Fair

Matilda is a lawyer, trained in the art of picking apart an adversary's words. Jack, her husband, admires her skills -- except when she uses them on him. Then, he feels belittled and incompetent, like he can never win. Is it any wonder he's spending more time at work these days?

Just as avoiding all conflict is unhealthy, so is having to win every time, no matter what the cost. Conflict should be an opportunity to get to know your partner better. A key skill in managing conflict is the knowledge that understanding is more important than winning.

To gain that understanding, it's important to be able to draw boundaries and respect your partner's boundaries. Matilda draws on her lawyerly skills because she can't bear to admit a mistake. In talking it over with Jack, they agree that she will try to admit it when she's been wrong, and he agrees to accept her admissions and reassure her of his love without blaming her.

   

Unfaithful Partners – The Downside Of Confession

Unfaithful partners in marriages or committed relationships are a huge epidemic in our society. In 1998, 22 percent of men and 14 percent of women admitted to having sexual relations outside their marriage sometime in their past. 70 percent of married women and 54 percent of married men did not know of their spouses' extramarital activity. Recording accurate infidelity statistics is difficult because people will not confess to cheating so these numbers could be much higher than reported.

Should partners confess unfaithful behavior to anyone?

If an affair has ended, it may not be the best idea to confess infidelity to your partner. The relationship could be irretrievably broken and the trust gone. It is also not a very good idea to tell your best friend just to get it off your chest. You are putting a terrible burden on the friend just to make yourself feel better. If confession is good for the soul, visit an objective third party such as a clergyman. There are also many marital retreats for couples to attend. Put all of the negative energy of the act of infidelity into improving the relationship with your partner. People can change and they can stop cheating as long as there is a solid commitment to do so.

   
How can I begin a conversation about what's bothering me?

The Soft Start

Today's relationship researchers have applied scientific methods to the study of how couples interact. The results have provided some clues into having productive discussions instead of toxic fights.

One technique that has been found effective, particularly for women, is the "soft start." If you're angry, it may be tempting to begin a discussion with sarcastic, bitter, or belittling words. Confronting your partner with a belligerent beginning can mean your message never gets heard.

A "soft start" doesn't mean downplaying genuine concerns. Rather, it establishes a space in which your partner can feel safe discussing serious issues with you. "You cheating scum!" drives your partner away, but you may be able to draw closer with "Because our relationship is so important to me, I've been concerned about the time you're spending away from home. Would you be willing to talk with me about ways we can have more time together?"

   
Should I try to avoid all conflict in my relationship?

Conflict Can Be Healthy

"I don't know what the problem was. We never fought!" Couples therapists hear this over and over -- often from spouses who've been dumped.

Of course it's not healthy if the two of you regularly go after each other with steak knives. Yet the healthiest and most lasting relationships allow both partners to express dissenting viewpoints, discuss areas of disagreement, and resolve disputes together. These partners are skilled at managing conflict so that the results aren't one-sided.

It's unreasonable to expect that you and your partner will never disagree, or that one of you will always be happy to bow to the other's wishes. A fair fight -- that is, a discussion in which the two of you disagree about something, whether it's what movie to watch or whether to have kids -- can be an intimate learning experience, helping you understand your partner better and feel heard and understood in return.

   
My partner doesn't keep promises. What can I do?

Passive Aggression

Andrew's career requires him to attend parties often. Yet whenever he asks Maxine to get a sitter so they can go together, she "forgets." Maxine isn't starting a fight about the time Andrew spends away from home, but she's fighting nonetheless -- a form of fighting called "passive-aggressiveness."
Andrew does it too, when he stays upstairs playing video games after promising Maxine he'll put the kids to bed. This kind of pattern can lead to just as much resentment as if he were screaming at her.

   
I don't think we're ever going to agree on certain things. Are we doomed?

Unresolvable Conflicts

Roy likes to hang out with family. Sheila would rather stay home. She'd like to have sex every day, while once a week is fine with him. He's an observant Christian, while she was raised Jewish and doesn't think religion is important.

Are they destined for divorce court? Not necessarily. Researchers who've observed happy, long-lasting couples have found that they don't necessarily agree on everything or solve every problem. Rather, they accept that some conflicts will never be fully resolved, and maintain their perspective in an atmosphere of fondness and appreciation.

Sheila may wish Roy were in bed with her on Sunday mornings, but she respects his need to worship in his own way. Roy may decide not to go to every family gathering, and only ask Sheila to attend the ones that are very important to him.

   
I've done something that will make my partner angry. Should I confess?

When You've Hurt Your Partner: Confessions

Every relationship has boundaries, spoken or unspoken. One common boundary is the agreement not to have sex with anyone but your partner. Breaking that agreement -- cheating -- is all too common.
Guilt often drives cheaters to come to their partners with a humble "I confess." If the partner doesn't know and will never find out, it is kinder to bear the burden of guilt and keep silent.

Whether or not a confession takes place, an incident of cheating should be enough to persuade you that something is wrong at home. If you drop everything to pursue a new relationship without first understanding what went wrong with the old one, you may find yourself repeating the same patterns and witnessing signs of lying.

   
What are some of the underlying issues in couples' conflicts?

Under the Surface

Sometimes, it seems like your partner is getting angry about the smallest things, or nothing at all. It may seem like a good idea to hide or ignore the conflict, but it may be better to ask, "What's really going on here?"
When your partner is relatively calm, it may be helpful to talk about what's happening in both your lives. Do you both have goals and interests of your own? Do you support one another's goals and interests?

People sometimes pick fights about little things when they're resentful about big things. Anxiety about a job or a relative's illness may get transformed into unfounded accusations of cheating or having an online affair. Start by looking at your partner's life. Is there something you can do -- changing a schedule, finding money for a class, even just saying "thank you -- to make it better?

   
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