By Allan Olingo
Conflicts are a part and parcel of a relationship. Partners in a relationship need not turn into monsters or to be treated monstrously during a fight, and hence when conflicts arise, the choice of whether to go for a run or run your partner down exists.
According to psychologist Kennedy Miduwa, couples need to address their differences in an amicable manner, creating room for constructive criticism.
“Disagreements are never solved by shouting or going for each other’s neck. As a couple, you need to have a way of disagreeing and expressing your intense feelings without going overboard,” says Miduwa.
More often, fighting in relationships take the form of trading accusations, sarcasm, emotional bargaining, threats, name-calling and cursing. All these, no matter how they are delivered, damage a relationship, sometime making the misunderstandings too big to manage.
Letting off steam
University of Nairobi Sociology lecturer Dr Gidraph Wairire says a healthy relationship requires knowing the skills necessary for friendly fighting, because all relationships have to have an element of disagreements.
“Couples ought to understand favourable ways of dealing with conflict respectfully and working together to find a workable solution,” says Dr Wairire.
He points out that friendly fighting means working out differences that matter in subtle, but serious ways without resorting to the negative extremes.
Says Dr Wairire: “It means engaging passionately about things we feel passionate about, without resorting to hurting one another. It helps us let off steam without getting burned. Friendly fighting lets us ‘fight’ and still stay friends.”
People in mature and healthy relationships understand the gains of friendly fighting and this has been the reason most of them have been able to stay together.
“It is possible to be in a relationship where you disagree without putting each other down. You should learn to work it out together and support each other, even when differences frustrate you,” advises Miduwa.
Here are some tips to ensure that conflicts will strengthen your relationship instead of harming it.
1. Confront compassionately
When confronted, the natural instinct is to defend yourself. When you confront compassionately, you are likely to meet in the middle. You will be able to open the other person’s heart and mind when you show them that you understand where they’re coming from. They also will be willing to see your side and that will give you a chance to express yourself and your expectations clearly.