When two people choose to walk together in relationship, there is never a question of whether or not they will experience conflict. Believe me, they will. The question is whether they will know what is at stake when conflict happens. The “thing” at stake, if you are curious, is the health of the relational connection.
It is possible to end up on the other side of conflict as people who are more powerful, freer to be yourselves, more confident in your love for each other, and more hopeful about your ability to meet each other’s needs. This positive outcome is dependent, however, on what you choose to do. Will you allow conflict to tear your connection apart? Or will you fight for your connection in the midst of conflict?
Here are 11 commitments that will enable you to build a conflict-resilient connection:
1. Our first goal in a conversation is to understand one another.
We are not bringing our list of wrongs, or the need to be right to the conversation. We simply want to understand the other perspective to begin the process of connection.
2. My thoughts, feeling, and needs are valuable and important, and so are yours.
In any relationship, two people will never fully agree on everything. It is understood that we will have differences of opinions and feelings. Respecting and valuing those differences will allow us to protect our connection.
3. I do not participate in disrespectful conversations.
When my thoughts, feelings, and needs are devalued in a conversation, I will stop the conversation and set a clear boundary. Until respect is restored, I will not participate.
4. We need to communicate our true feelings and needs to establish trust and intimacy.
Being vulnerable with how we actually feel when there is a potential for conflict can be scary. The only way to establish trust is to allow our true feelings to emerge and needs to be met.
5. It’s my job to tell you what is going on inside me, and your job to tell me what’s going on inside you.
We do not have powers of telepathy or the right to assume we know one another’s motives, thoughts, feelings, or needs.
6. The best way to communicate my feelings and needs to you is to use “I messages” and clear, specific statements that show what I am feeling and experiencing.
“I messages” let you know what is happening inside of me without pointing the finger at what I think you did.
7. I will not expect you to know my feeling and needs unless I have communicated them to you.
I am responsible for my thought and feelings, and the way I communicate those to you.
8. I will not make judgment statements or tell you how you must change in order to meet my needs.
I am only responsible to tell you my need, and it is up to you to figure out how you’d like to meet that need.
9. When you communicate your needs to me, it is my job to listen well so I can understand what you need, how my life is affecting you, and what I can do to meet your needs.
Getting good information about the other person is for the purpose of knowing how to best meet each other needs.
10. I am committed to protecting and nurturing our connection. I will do what I need to do in order to keep moving toward you–no matter what.
Moving toward you is a powerful choice when pain has entered the equation or there has been a misunderstanding. It is in these moments that my powerful choice is most necessary.
11. It’s my job to manage my heart so that I can respond to you in love and cast out fear in our relationship.
If I can keep love on toward you no matter what, I will do my part in protecting our connection.
These core values and tools of communication will prevent most conflict in relationships. Every time you express your needs, set a boundary, listen, meet a need, or speak in one another’s love languages, you are nourishing and exercising your connection, keeping it healthy and resistant to harm.
Yes, healthy communication often feels like hard work.
A vulnerable, honest conversation requires as much energy from your mind and heart as a tough session at the gym. But the benefits of building a strong connection are even more rewarding than the rewards of building a strong body.
PS) Did you enjoy this excerpt from Keep Your Love On? You can find more resources like this under the purchase tab on our webstite, to help you build and repair relational connection.