Blog Post – Getting Real, Your Conflict Style & Experience

Looking at the chart that describes the five different domains of conflict resolution approaches mine lands right in the middle of it all. It is compromise. This, on one level, is very beneficial because I am able to find a middle ground for all parties and I am able to quickly come up with solutions to momentarily satisfy both parties. I am not demanding nor do I completely give way to the demands of others. For momentary fixes this is optimal, however, it is not the best solution. For myself, I believe adopting a more collaborative approach would be the best thing I could do. This means that I would have to be more assertive in understanding my position and also much more accommodating of the other party. If I were to collaborate with other people it would be to create long-term fixes that benefit both parties, which is different from compromising in which both parties give something up for a short term resolution. One example I can use is actually dealing with my wife and I. It is the story below. In this situation I wanted more physical affection from my wife but she didn’t feel comfortable being so close to me or hugging me that much. Initially we compromised and whenever I wanted affection there would be times when I would tell her and others when I would keep quiet. For the short term this worked. I received a little affection and she felt like she was loving me without feeling smothered. However, as time went on I grew discontent with only asking for affection sometimes, and she was hurt because I felt unwanted by her. The result is we sat down and discussed a solution we could both agree too that benefited both parties. We decided on a foot massage or time of closeness for 15 minutes a day. Over time she became more comfortable with physical affection and I grew to need it less because of the agreement we made.

Here is the full story.

One conflict that arose was at my house with my spouse. The conflict was I felt my wife did not care for me and did not show me affection. My wife and I are very different people; my position is I need physical affection (hugs, kisses, and hand holding) to feel loved and I felt she was not doing much of that. My wife, on the other hand, comes from a military family that does not show much physical affection, so when she would hug me or hold my hand every so often, she felt she was smothering me. To fractionate this, the issues are the expectations of physical affection in marriage and the emotional impacts that the expectations for physical affection carry. In a marriage it can be very difficult to separate the person from the problem, especially when the person is emotionally tied to the problem. However, for us we uncovered that the issue was not that she had no love for me. The issue was she was unfamiliar with showing physical affection. I needed more physical affections to feel emotionally cared for. We could address the issue by having set periods of time each day that I could receive a foot-massage, that I could be held, or that I could expect to be physically close to her. Yet, that amount of time needs to be something she feels comfortable with and that she doesn’t feel smothered or irritated doing. For instance, it could be 30 minutes a day I am shown affection by my wife by a foot massage. In order to save face I could tell my wife that although I may not always be physically held by her, I always know she loves me. And my wife could tell me that although she doesn’t like being physically affectionate with me for long periods of time, that I am worth overcoming that to show me love.

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