Family Relationships

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A Gift for Chelsea and Marc: Conflict Resolution Strategies

Close to 85% of participants in a recent survey said they're accepting of interfaith marriages. But there can be challenges, especially if issues - like how to celebrate holidays, raise the children, honor life stages - haven't been talked about before the wedding.
RHINEBECK, NY - JULY 31: Balloons are displayed in a store window as the town prepares for the wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky on July 31, 2010 in Rhinebeck, New York. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Read about conflict resolution from Wikipedia and advice from interfaith couples to Chelsea and Marc. As differences can lead to disagreements, the best you can do sometimes is practice strategies to maximize your strengths:

Minimize emotional overload. Flooding is a physiological arousal that is activated when tensions are high and communication stalls. When quarreling, state a desired outcome and stick to the subject at hand. Try not to blame your partner or get defensive, and take some responsibility for what's going on.

Assume a non-threatening posture. Calibrate your emotions because your body language and tone of voice make a difference. Monitor any negative comments and be slow to criticize. Count to 10 before reacting and, if it looks like the conversation is escalating, walk away.

Agree to a time-out strategy. Before you say something you may later regret, decide to put some distance between yourselves and the problem. Plan to come back to the conversation later and work out a solution. And then take a break until you're less upset and settled down enough to listen without planning a rebuttal.

Find a comfortable position, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Hold your breath for several seconds and release it slowly through your mouth. Repeat this several times, brushing away any distractions. Notice how focusing only on each breath can make you feel more calm.

Pay attention to constructive thoughts. You can turn the negatives into more positives. For example, his anger isn’t all about me; we really do love each other; she's under a lot of pressure at work; this too shall pass; I'm upset now but I know we’re right for each other.

Why not familiarize yourselves with these techniques before a situation gets heated. You can create some key words together that will alert you to the potential danger ahead. Perhaps even use teasing, humor and laughter to cut through the drama.

Here's one of many sites that offers information for married couples. Visit our website,, and read this article about how to fight fair. And log on to the blog Friday for our concluding post about marriage and conflict resolution.

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