Thanks to John Gottman, we have insight into what makes a relationship work. One of the key elements? Solving conflict constructively.
After watching a couple discuss a conflict for a few minutes (anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes) Gottman designed a system which could predict with more than 90% accuracy, which couples would ultimately succeed or fail (5 to 15 years later).
One simple observation could predict long-term outcomes.
What are the key warning signs that a couple is headed for divorce? Four negative behaviors, called the four horsemen of the apocalypse:
The following article describes how John Gottman’s system works and applies to a real life relationship.
Conflict in a close relationship is not a problem. Treating your partner with disrespect during a conflict is what causes so much damage.
How do you solve conflict constructively?
Be honest about your feelings, take your partner’s perspective into account, and try to find solutions that work for everyone. You are on the same team. It is “us” versus “our problems,” not “you” versus “me.”
Taking a constructive approach won’t solve every problem. But, it will minimize the damage you do to your relationship in the long run.