Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Conflict Resolution - Tips to Manage Conflict in your Relationship

Were you ever surprised to hear a barrage of never-before-heard complaints about you from your partner? Or shocked to learn that your partner is leaving for reasons you had no idea were a problem? Nothing had ever been said. It's a complete surprise. You are likely in a relationship with a conflict avoider.

The person in a relationship who avoids conflict often does not let the other person know what their needs are and what they are thinking. They tend to "keep the peace" at all costs. And the cost can be high.

Eventually, the conflict avoider becomes resentful, angry or even depressed. At some point they cannot contain the buildup of their resentments and react in an unhealthy manner. For example: They may without warning angrily enumerate all that is wrong with you and the relationship. They may quietly and resentfully resolve to leave the relationship. They may seek to have their needs met through an affair. They may emotionally withdraw in the relationship.

The conflict avoider generally does not give their partner enough information to have a healthy relationship. Often the conflict avoider blames their partner. However, if their partner does not know there is a problem, how can they address it or be held accountable for it? Conflict avoiders actually create a much bigger conflict by not addressing their everyday concerns.

Conflict is often considered "bad" by the conflict avoider. They may have learned while growing up that conflict meant arguments, fighting or even violence. They became uncomfortable, anxious or fearful of conflict because they lacked a positive role model.

Indeed, conflict is a healthy part of a relationship. Conflict means there are differences in perceptions, beliefs and values. Conflict can be addressed in a very civil manner and can produce a healthy outcome and a healthier relationship. Conflict avoiders actually have a chance to have their needs met if they faced their fear and expressed their needs in an assertive manner. However, not every conflict needs to be addressed. Pick the conflicts that are worth it to you and your relationship.

Tips for conflict resolution in a relationship:

  • Recognize that conflict means there is a difference in perception, personal value, belief or feeling about something.
  • Conflict is not something to be feared.
  • Conflict is not inherently "bad".
  • Conflict ignored does not resolve but festers. It creates an unhealthy relationship within you and with others.
  • Conflict can trigger strong emotions.
  • Conflict can be addressed in a healthy manner.
  • Try to understand what emotion you are feeling and why you might be feeling it.
  • Let the other person know your concerns.
  • Ask the other person what they heard you say - this clarifies if they understood your viewpoint.
  • Verbalize what you think the other person is saying to clarify your understanding of their viewpoint.
  • Be respectful of each other.
  • Don't blame or bring up all the wrongs of the past.
  • Don't name call.
  • Don't say "you always..." or "you never....
  • Work on resolving the conflict - it's not about winning or losing. It's about maintaining and strengthening your relationship.
  • Address the conflict when it arises. This doesn't necessarily mean the moment you have conflict you have to act upon it. It may be better to take time to think through your concerns and needs before bringing them up.
  • No matter how long you have been together:
    • Don't expect the other person to read your mind. They can't.
    • Don't think you can read the other person's mind. You can't.

There are many articles written about conflict resolution. If you have difficulty identifying your own behaviors and fears about conflict or are having trouble implementing healthy conflict management skills, seek help from a professional either as an individual or as a couple. Life can be better. You may actually get your needs met in your relationship when you thought you never would.


The information contained in this website should not be considered by anyone viewing the website as a substitute for appropriate diagnosis and treatment provided by a licensed health practitioner. All content is for general purposes only. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website. Mary Anne Zeh, A.P.R.N., C.S., LLC is not responsible or liable for the content of any site accessed through this website.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mood disorder characterized by mood swings that alternate between periods of depression, mania, hypomania or irritability. Sometimes mood swings are a mixture of depression and mania or irritability. With bipolar disorder, the symptoms experienced, the length of time in episodes and the severity of the illness course can vary from person to person.

Bipolar I Disorder requires a person to have at least one manic episode in their lifetime (with or without a major depressive episode). Bipolar II Disorder is characterized by at least one hypomanic and one depressive episode. The symptoms of hypomania are similar to mania but less severe in presentation and often less debilitating on the person's work or social life.

If the mania is left untreated it can become so severe that hospitalization is required. Below are some of the symptoms of a manic / hypomanic episode:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Eight Tips for Managing the Stress of the Holidays

The holidays can bring with it a mixture of emotions and different types of stress. The stress can be self-imposed, generated by other people's expectations or due to the given circumstances of your life.

How might you manage the stress?
1. Determine what is important about the holiday. Is it family, friends, celebration, mindfulness, prayer, giving or sharing? Think about it – what do you feel is important (not what you “should” feel is important).

2. Explore ways that you can focus your holiday around the things that you determined are important to you. Pick the one(s) that is (are) reasonable, doable and best match what you feel is important.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What is Depression?

Have you ever heard someone say “I’m depressed” when they mean that they are having a bad day. Having a bad day isn’t necessarily depression.

So what is depression?

It’s when:

There is at least a 2 week period of time that you are feeling down, sad or empty or not really interested in the things you normally do.

And, you experience several of the following symptoms:

You just are not functioning the same.
  • You can’t get out of bed in the morning or it’s become a big chore.
  • You dread facing the day - you can’t get rid of the awful feeling that nothing is going to get better.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What is Panic and Agoraphobia?

When I told someone that I was a psychiatric APRN, she asked me why her husband gradually stopped driving for no apparent reason and rarely left the house. She was baffled at what was happening to him.

There could be several explanations for this. One explanation could be that while away from home or while driving, her husband experienced extreme anxiety and had a panic attack. A panic attack can come without warning. When a person experiences a panic attack, it can feel as if they are going to have a heart attack and die.