web analytics
May 29, 2015 / 11 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Part 18 – Conflict Resolution


Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

No matter how couples try to make sure everything in their lives is perfect, at some point they may experience conflict in their marriage. Conflict is not as dramatic as it sounds. In marriage, independent of how much you love someone, you may have differing ideas about money or education, preferences, or various special activities you both want to do. Learning how to resolve these differences, appropriately, can avoid prolonged or destructive anger and hostility. Conflict resolution skills include cultivating the right attitude, as well as learning interpersonal techniques.

To begin with, most arguments, on some level, stem from misunderstanding. One spouse might perceive the other’s action, inaction, or words as being unreasonable and inappropriate in a given circumstance. People are quick to take their positions and justify their stands rather than to try to understand the other party. Added to this problem of misunderstanding are feelings of pride where people put up a bold front and avoid giving in to their spouse. In some marriages, a small war might rage for days before the conflict is resolved and in between, tension and unhappiness builds.

Take Rachel 27, and David, 28 who came to speak to me about a fight they were having over how to handle their 8-year-old son, Yosef. Yosef was by all means a rambunctious third-grader who kept his teacher and parents hopping on their toes day and night. Rachel, who had two other young children at home, was feeling overwhelmed dealing with them and Yosef’s ADD-like behavior. She was also upset that her husband, David, came home late from work and wasn’t pulling his weight around the house. The home-related stress was causing conflict and Rachel and David were unable to resolve their problems peacefully.

Understanding Differences in Communication

It is true that many couples like Rachel and David face similar stress-filled situations yet are able to maintain a positive relationship. The difference between Rachel and David and others, is the way they argue and the defensive styles of communication they maintain. Rachel, for example, tends to be very assertive. She’s quick to blame David for the stress she’s feeling at home and berates him from the second he enters the door until the minute they go to sleep. David on the other hand, is an “avoider” who shies away from conflict. He has more of an happy-go-lucky personality and hushes up like an obedient puppy when his wife yells at him. Together, the mixture of Rachel’s competitive style and David’s avoidance of conflict has created a relationship that was low on trust and high on negative feelings.

One way of for Rachel and David to deal with their conflict is through them becoming aware of their negative styles of communication. According to family therapists there are several key styles of communication that people develop: competitive, avoidant, and compromising.

 

 

Competitive Style

When a person uses a competitive style, they tend to be very assertive and interested in getting their own way. They also approach the conflict in a forceful manner without being interested in cooperating with other people, and view their relationship from a win/lose perspective.

People use the competitive style when an issue is very important to them, or when the person has the authority to make the decision, and it seems clear that this is the one best way. They can also become competitive when decisions have to be made fast and the person has power the to make it, as the following dialogue shows:

Moshe (irritated): You didn’t turn off the lights in the bathroom when you were finished. How many times do I have to remind you? Shani (sarcastic tone): Why do you have to make such a big deal about a few cents worth of electricity? Moshe (harshly): Because you’re irresponsible about money, that’s why! Shani (reacting): Maybe you’d save more money if I just moved out.

When someone is competitive, they look upon a family discussion or disagreement as being sort of like a debate or contest.

In a contest, it’s natural for humans to want to score more points than their opponent.

When spouses seek to score points against one another, a family discussion quickly degenerates into a win/lose competition. As disagreement heats up, spouses begin using increasingly abusive comments to “score points.”

Usually these hurtful words do not express what the two spouses really feel about each other.

They’re just caught up in the heat of competition. When the dust settles both spouses wonder how the mess got started in the first place and wish they could take back the words they said. Unfortunately, the “winner” settles down in a cloud of gloom and thinks, “Boy, I won that one! Soooo… how come I feel so bad?”

Avoidant Style

This approach happens when a person does not assert himself, doesn’t know how to cooperate or wants to avoid conflict entirely. Although this can temporarily be a good approach to use if one is dealing with a difficult person, in the long run, it leaves issues unresolved and can linger on far beyond the event. Avoidance can mean to others that a person is ‘running away’ from them and they feel they can take advantage of the situation. Their inner message is that they need to maintain a lose/win attitude to survive.

The avoider on the outside may seem to give in, but at the same time, they can build considerable resentment towards their spouse for denying their feelings and agreeing to things they feel are wrong or hurtful.

When one partner always retreats from difficult discussions, the other partner pushes even harder to achieve a resolution. As the pusher pushes harder, the retreater retreats further. Eventually the distance between spouses can become an uncrossable chasm.

Next week, Part 19 – The Compromising Style of Communication

Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is the Executive Director of Shalom Task Force and author of a “First Aid for Jewish Marriages: Eight Steps To Enhancing the Most Important Relationship in Your Life.” For more information about Shalom Task Force, please visit www.shalomtaskforce.org. You can e-mail questions to him at rabbischonbuch@yahoo.com.

About the Author: Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He is an expert in marriage counseling, pre-marital education, treating Anxiety and Depression, and helping teens in crisis with offices in Brooklyn. To watch his free videos on marriage and parenting and for appointments visit: www.JewishMarriageSupport.com, email rabbischonbuch@yahoo.com or call 646-428-4723.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Part 18 – Conflict Resolution”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
What's happened to NYC's Celebrate Israel Parade?
Israel Rejects as ‘False’ UJA Federation’s Claims about Israel Parade ‘Inclusion’
Latest Sections Stories
West-Coast-logo

Tal Dimenstein has been selected to present her ELI Talk about Appreciation during this year’s conference in Chicago.

How is it possible that some of our people cannot see what I see, the miracle of the existence of the state of Israel?

Birobidzhan railway station sign is the world’s only one spelling the town’s name in Yiddish letters

She’s seen as a poster child for The Jewish Home’s efforts to reach beyond its Orthodox base.

Girls don’t usually learn Gemara. Everyone knows that.

Mordechai and his men shared a strong mutual loyalty.

“Can I wear tefillin in the bathroom?” That was the question US Private Nuchim Lebensohn wrote to Mike Tress, president of the Agudath Israel Youth Council, in a letter dated November 18, 1942. Lebensohn was not your typical young American GI. Polish by birth, he was forty-three years old and married when he was drafted […]

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

This therapist kept focusing on how “I could do better,” never on how we could make the marriage work.

Mistrust that has lingered after the fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri, has edged the issue forward.

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

More Articles from Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch
Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

A compulsion is a repetitive action. But what underlies the compulsion is an obsession or fear.

Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

Teens-at-risk feel alienated from their parents and often believe that no one is interested in hearing about their problems.

Separation anxiety disorder is a condition in which a child becomes fearful and nervous when away from home or separated from a loved one – usually a parent or other caregiver – to whom the child is attached.

I try to focus on the parents in a way that is not often addressed. As soon as the child gets anxious, the parent gets anxious;

Most people are not aware that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).

Parental conflict affects children in varying ways, depending on their age. For example, teenagers around the age of fifteen or sixteen are most likely to involve themselves in their parents’ battles. Younger children may keep their feelings hidden inside and may only show signs of depression in late childhood or early adolescence.

When parents come to talk to me about a troubled child or teenager, I often find it helpful to explore whether or not their marriage is causing their teenager to be at risk.

Active listening is only one part of the marriage equation; learning what to say and what not to say is the other half. And, it’s not just about expressing your feelings, but doing it in a way that avoids hurting the other person.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/part-18-conflict-resolution/2009/06/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: