Couples counseling is popular among married couples, but that does not mean it is exclusively for married couples. Dating couples can also benefit from couples therapy. This process is designed to improve communication, resolve conflicts, and prevent future arguments – skills you need regardless of your marital status. Here are some conflict resolution tips for dating couples that you can use to improve your relationship, courtesy of our counseling centers in Michigan.
Practice Respectful Communication
Good communication is a defining element of successful relationships. If you and your partner can learn how to speak/listen to one another, you can resolve problems with ease.
- Make concise statements about your thoughts, feelings and concerns. Then let your partner comment.
- Respect the person who is speaking, and truly listen to what he or she has to say.
- Do not interrupt each other.
- Do not spend too much time speaking without allowing the other person to respond.
- Remove all distractions during the conversation – TV, phone, computer, etc.
- Don’t just bring up problems. Suggest solutions.
Creating a flow of communication takes time, and each couple has their own unique dynamic. If you would like personalized communication building tips for you as a couple, contact Oakland Psychological Clinic. We offer confidential couples counseling in Southeast Michigan, and we would love to work with you.
Identify the Underlying Reason for the Argument
There is usually a much deeper meaning behind every argument. You’re not actually mad about watching a different TV show. You’re mad because you rarely get to make decisions in the relationship. You’re not mad that he came home late. You’re mad that he didn’t tell you about it, thus ruining your dinner plans.
In order to resolve conflicts, you need to understand what’s fueling them. What are you actually upset about? Is there an ongoing issue that hasn’t been fixed yet? Did you agree something that you’re now not comfortable with? Find the source of the issue and you’ll have a much easier time finding an answer for it.
Pause the Conversation as Needed
You do not have to resolve all conflicts in one setting. This often does more harm than good. You get to a point in an argument where you’re both so upset that you’ve forgotten what started the argument in the first place. More importantly, you’re so angry at one another that every statement frustrates you even more. Recognize when this is happening, and take a break for a moment to clear your thoughts. Return to the conversation later with an open mind, a forgiving heart, and a clear view of your own perspective.
Find Compromises That Work for Both of You
Compromises are only effective if both parties benefit from them. Otherwise, the person on the less beneficial side of the compromise may feel resentment or anger over time. When you discuss solutions for your disagreements, make sure both of you are satisfied with the outcome. You may not be 100% happy and neither will your partner, but a good balance will prevent future conflicts.
Don’t Become a Flight Risk
“You know what? We’re done. I’m out!” This is a common point for disagreements between dating couples because there is no legal bind in the relationship. If one person wants to leave, he or she can simply leave. Threatening to do that in arguments can quickly create trust issues. You each put up a boundary because you do not want to get hurt if the other person leaves.
Rather than seeing each argument as a reason to leave, see it as an opportunity for growth. Look for a solution to the problem, and work together to solve it. If you do decide to leave the relationship, do so after careful consideration, not in the heat of an argument.
Let Go of Grudges
Grudges will hold you back from having a joyful relationship. Whether you’re dating, engaged or married, you cannot let past conflicts hinder your future happiness. If there is an issue you cannot let go of in your mind, talk about it. Find a solution to the problem and bring closure to it.
For more guidance or to learn about couples counseling near you, contact one of our Michigan therapist offices.