Finding common ground with people at work, school, church, or in social groups is something most of us try to do on a regular basis. Even when it’s challenging, we still try to cultivate stronger relationships with people we interact with. But how hard do you work at developing the same type of common ground with your spouse or significant other?
Sure, it’s easy to get frustrated if your husband forgets to take the trash out. Again. Or, maybe your wife overlooked paying the credit card bill this month which triggered phone calls from creditors. There are lots of little “issues” that frequently get in the way of bliss. The reality is you would be hard pressed to find two people who completely agree on everything. Couples who live happily together still have disagreements, but the difference is how they deal with them.
No two people are the same and even when they are happily compatible there will always be some things that will create tension between them. Avoiding conflict is definitely not the answer. The trick is learning how to discuss sensitive issues in a healthy manner so the other person understands your feelings without the situation becoming heated. By making a few simple choices, you and your partner can decrease the fighting and increase your common ground.
Treat each other with respect
Talking problems out calmly and letting each other speak their minds is incredibly important; however, it should be done in a way that not accusing, cursing, or shouting. When you scream at someone you are not being heard. The only thing coming across is the volume – not the words.
Be a good listener
People in lasting relationships know how to listen. Sometimes couples get in fights before they really even know what they’re fighting about. Taking the time to listen to your partner gives both of you the benefit of the doubt, and you might not even be upset once you hear all the facts.
Remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Just because your spouse disagrees with you doesn’t mean they are wrong or they have to change. It’s easy to get defensive, but instead of trying to convince your partner they are wrong, try to figure out why they feel they way they do. Asking questions is an excellent way to have a better understanding of your partner and their feelings.
Get the facts
Try to get the facts straight. Sometimes a disagreement can occur just because of a simple miscommunication. Before you start an argument make sure that you fully understand the whole situation and get as many details as you can. You may not even be upset once you hear the whole story.
Find your common ground
Once you have asked questions, listened carefully to the facts, and calmly stated your position, try to find some point in the discussion that you both agree on. Making small concessions can go a long way toward finding solutions and/or alternatives to whatever the conflict is about.
Remember that in the end you are both on the same team. You want the best for each other, so there is no need to let small disagreements get in the way of a happy relationship. Many couples simply don’t know how to communicate and handle conflict. However, skills to handle disagreements and work out compromises can be learned from a qualified mental health professional or therapist.