The following will work well when both parties are actively and willingly working towards understanding each other in a mutually respectful and honest relationship.

  1. Attitude:
    1. Approach the discussion with the attitude of, “I don’t have to win this argument and I don’t have to be the one who is right.”
    2. Make the truth about yourself with respect to the issues and whatever is best for everyone concerned of paramount importance. Take the stance of committing yourselves to following these principles above anything that you feel or fear or desire.
    3. Humble yourself enough to listen and learn from the person with whom you are in conflict. If you hear a good idea coming from the other person, then validate it!
  1. Person A talks:
    1. Approach the discussion with the attitude that, “I don’t have to win this argument and I don’t have to be the one who is right.”
    2. Don't try to cover every aspect of the issue in one communication.
    3. Don't try to do a “sales job” on the other person. 
    4. You must give a proposed solution. And you must give reasons why you believe that your ideas or opinions would be the best choice for everyone affected by them.
    5. Remember, the longer you talk, the more complicated the discussion becomes. When many issues are raised at the same time, it can become confusing and over- whelming for the other person to choose which issues to respond to.
    6. Also the longer you talk without a chance to hear from the other person when in conflict, the more likely you are to hit sensitive issues and stir up hurt, resentment, etc.
  1. Listen:
    1. Try to pay more attention to what the other person is saying rather than to what you are going to say in rebuttal.
    2. Try to hear not only the words but the heart attitudes of the person talking.
  2. Person B talks:
    1. The first response should be questions or statements to clarify what you heard from person A, just to be sure you understand correctly before responding.
    2. The next step is to state the things that you can agree with that the Person A has said and why you agree with them.
    3. Only after these two steps is it okay to give your additional ideas or contrasting views and the reasons for them. When giving your opposing views, be sure to follow all of the guidelines listed in #2 above.
  3. Resolution:
    1. Continue the four steps above, going back and forth while maintaining the proper attitude. Give time to the process even though it may be tense and seem tedious.
    2. Do not agree to decisions or conclusions that you don’t really believe in just to end the conflict, to make the other person feel better, or to try to prevent anger. You must continue talking respectfully and listening until both (or all involved) can come to the place where each can honestly say, “I can live with that,” or “I think that would be the best choice for us all.”
    3. Honor your agreements by keeping them until or if a new agreement is made.
    4. If you do this process well and still cannot come to a consensus, you may need a third party mediator or there may be individual issues that need attention first. 

Love After Marriage: Working Through Conflict is available on our store ($4 download, $7.50 CD)