If you dislike conflict, and can’t bear the thought of having one, you’re not alone. So many people would much rather have a filling at the dentist than having a confrontation with someone. Whether it’s a romantic partner, colleague or family member for some people conflict is something they habitually avoid. I know I used to be one of them.
Reflecting back I think I adopted this avoidance pattern from childhood. My mother was always shouting and screaming the house down, I’m one of five children and we all avoided her, including my Dad. She was also emotionally and sometimes physically abusive. We lived in fear not knowing what might set her off, or what mood she was in, so conflict avoiding became the only way to survive my childhood and teenage years.
Unfortunately not dealing with conflict doesn’t mean the conflict isn’t there anymore. In close relationships conflict avoiding often makes the problem worse as resentment builds and avoiding conflict brings additional negative tension to the relationship. The repressed anger, stress and disappointment also hurts a lot more too, as there is no outlet. We carry the burden and pain inside us.
Plus the more we don’t communicate the problem or issue, the greater the chance it will be repeated. Anyone close to you they will be able to sense you are upset and when you don’t say why you leave them to “guess” what is wrong and make it right. Expecting a partner to guess, is unfair and a disaster for a happy, close relationship.
Another negative thing about a conflict avoider in marriage is that sometimes the non-conflict avoider becomes one as a form of retaliation. Leaving tension and resentment to build on both sides.
If you have been in a relationship for several years and never argue or disagree, that may not be a good sign. Holding in grievances only to erupt later is not a way to successful remain connected. Passive-aggressive behaviour many conflict avoiders have, does just as much damage to closeness as angry outbursts do. Passive aggressive behaviour can be things like sarcasm, guilt, or distancing. When used in replacement of sharing feelings the couple cannot move forward, instead, they become stuck as nothing is being expressed.
Another thing I’ve noticed in helping countless couples become closer is that if there are one or two conflict avoiders in the marriage, drinking alcohol can become an issue. This is because the conflict avoider(s) finally lets their tension and frustration out when they drink.
Marriage Communication: Here are some signs you or your partner are avoiding conflict in your marriage or relationship
- Putting off conversations: Thinking or saying “I’ll talk about it later” or “we can discuss this on the weekend” and it never happens.
- Denying a problem is there: Refusing there is a problem and refusing help.
- Joking and diversion: Using humour to deflect away from topics or sarcasm “oh no not another talk”
- Using Children or Guests as an excuse: Of course, children need protecting but sometimes this is used as an excuse for months not to talk even when the children are sleeping. Saying it’s never a good time with no time given won’t help the relationship.
- Working too much: this is a very common way to avoid having the time for meaningful discussion.
- Walking away: Walking away is the easiest way to avoid the discomfort of confrontation.
- Outright refusal to address topics: This is the hardest to overcome, if there is a refusal to discuss something that is important to one in the relationship, it’s going to cause long-term damage. How can you fix an issue you cannot speak about?
Conflict avoidance not only prevents you from getting what you want in life, it can bring more of what you don’t want. Conflict avoiders often fear one or a combination of these 3 things
Marriage Communication: Fears
1) fear rejection, criticism and judgment from the other person
2) fear the other persons over reaction, aggressiveness or extreme upset
3) fear they themselves may overact and explode
The truth is when we live in fear we create a low-frequency energy which transmits attracts more negativity and reasons to be fearful. The more we focus on the fears above the more we will fear them.
Another truth is we can only control ourselves, not others. You can control what you say, how you say it, when you say it. That is in your power. You cannot predict the outcome nor control it.
I had to decide either I let what is bothering to go and really let it go not just pretend or I address it and face whatever reaction comes my way. When I started sharing my thoughts and feelings, to my surprise the relationship got far better. My boyfriend loves the openness, the depth and it’s definitely more bearable than my sulking! 🙂 I became more attractive as I was expressing all sides of me and I felt free from resentment and stress as the air was cleared regularly. Misunderstandings were cleared up instantly as well.
Marriage Communication Tips:
Here are a few tips to help you if you avoid conflict
1) Explore your fears: What is the absolute worst that can happen if I share this? Can I deal with those consequences, even if they get mad or reject me? Is my fear of bringing this up rational or irrational?
2) Always use “I” statements: “I’m feeling upset about ____________ and I’d like to talk through it.”
3) Have an outcome: I am solution based marriage specialist. I don’t believe in purely going over problems, give a clear indication of what you would like instead or how you can move forward together.
4) Remember we are ALL responsible for our own reactions – How your partner reacts is their choice. You’re responsible for your own feelings and actions no one else’s.
5) Be proud of yourself when you address a conflict – it’s mature and healthy to express yourself.
6) Respect, Respect, Respect – This is the last piece of wisdom… respect yourself by speaking up when you need to, respect your partner by speaking respectfully and by listening in return.
Conflict is not easy to deal with, but it is far better for you and your relationship than carrying tension, stress and anger inside of you.
Hope this is in some way useful to you have a great week ahead
From my heart to yours, Nicola
This article originally appeared at http://www.savemymarriageprogram.com/2017/08/03/conflict-in-marriage-communication/ .
Nicola Beer is a UK certified grief and loss specialist, a leading authority on relationship psychology and divorce, an international best-selling author in 4 books and has been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News Network and Wall Street Select. She works with couples to save their marriage or if divorce has been decided she helps individuals to minimize the stress, anxiety and chaos divorce can bring. Which including strategies to help children through, and how to thrive emotionally and financially after.
People from all over the world schedule private Skype or tele-sessions with Nicola Beer or thousands seek her counsel by listening to her audio podcast show “Divorce Talk with Nicola Beer” available on iTunes or by downloading her free e-books 10 Steps to Creating a New Life After Divorce” and “Protect Children Through Divorce” on her website http://savemymarriageprogram.com .