So, what are those specific skills that will lead to happiness now and to your “happily ever after” in the future?
Dr. Gottman has provided the following six skills to help couples learn how to manage conflict and live happily ever after:
1. Practice Physiological Self-Soothing
Take a timeout when conflict arises. Go for a walk, take a bath, read a book, do whatever it takes to breathe, calm down, and return to a better frame of mind. How long is the perfect amount of time for a break? According to Dr. Gottman, it’s 20 minutes.
2. Use A Softened Startup
It’s true that conversations usually end on the same note they began, so start softly. Don’t blame. Use I-statements. Describe what is happening. And be polite.
3. Repair And De-eEscalate
Use scripted phrases like “Let me try again,” “I don’t feel like you are understanding me right now,” and “I’m sorry” to help de-escalate and begin making repair attempts.
4. Listen To Your Partner’s Underlying Feelings And Dreams
Perpetual gridlocked problems between you and your partner often conceal underlying feelings and dreams that aren’t getting communicated. So, start by contemplating what your dreams are and how you can communicate them more clearly to your partner. Second, become a better listener and seek to discover your partner’s deepest feelings and dreams. The purpose of this skill is to truly understand who your partner is deep down inside in order to accept influence and compromise together.
5. Accept Influence
Recognize that your partner has good ideas and important opinions (shocker – your way isn’t always the best way or the right way). Show respect for those opinions and find something you can learn from your partner. Take this questionnaire to see where you most need to improve when it comes to accepting influence.
Compromise is an art. What’s Dr. Gottman’s advice? “Compromise never feels perfect. Everyone gains something and everyone loses something… the important thing is feeling understood, respected, and honored in your dreams.” So work together with your partner to find common ground and compromise that will leave you both feeling valued, respected, and supported.
If you practice these six skills from Dr. Gottman and learn to manage conflict in positive and healthy ways, then happily ever after can be yours today and everyday as you recognize conflict for what it is – an opportunity to learn, grow, progress, and live a full and meaningful life now.
This article was originally published on The Gottman Relationship Blog.
Want to use conflict as a catalyst to achieve your happily ever after? Then get your free copy of 7 Signs Your Relationship Will Last here to learn how.
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