This is the second post in our “Arguing Constructively” series
Constructive Relationship Guidelines
If arguments begin to have a deteriorating effect on a relationship and no resolution appears in sight, it is time to examine the level of commitment each of the partners has to the relationship. This is sometimes a basic issue that remains unresolved by two partners. People avoid this topic out of fear that their partner may be on the verge of bailing out, so they never get a good reading on how the partner feels about the degree of intimacy and longevity they ought to have in the relationship.
Many arguments, in fact, stem from the fact that one of the partners feels that the other is less committed, and this gives rise to unresolved anger, fears of being abandoned, control attempts, and trying to change the other person. At this stage you may even see your partner as the enemy, a competitor, and someone who is not to be trusted. Problems arise when each person sees the commitment differently or when their expectations are unrealistic. Unhealthy commitments assume that one person is responsible for the other person’s happiness.
A solid first step in working on conflict in a relationship is to clarify the degree of commitment each party feels toward the other. An adaptive commitment to a relationship assumes that there are two mature, independent people whose needs, wants, and motives can change over the years – and this is precisely why communication about the commitment is necessary. It should be an open topic which can be brought up on occasion. Couples who have been together for decades often attribute their success to the commitment they have made to the relationship.
A qualified couples therapist, marriage counselor, or relationship therapist can teach you conflict resolution skills
Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT