1. Set the tone with a calm demeanor. This may mean taking a few minutes to gather your thoughts or calm down.
2. Ask yourself: "Am I seeking a solution, or am I trying to 'win' the argument?"
3. Keep perspective: Our relationship is more important than any issue.
4. Seek first to understand: Ask questions, trying to understand your spouse's point of view before you make any statement.
5. Restate what your spouse is saying to show that you 'hear' them.'
6. Find common ground: Look for parts of the issue on which you can agree.
7. Attack the issue, not the person: Remember, it's NOT you vs. me. It's you AND me vs. the problem. Picture the issue as an object sitting on the floor between the two of you, and remember, you're on the same team, as you work on this issue.
8. Seek a Win-Win solution
Ken: When Janine and I were planning a remodeling project, we came to a disagreement on where the wall should go to divide the laundry room from the workshop in the garage. Moving that wall 2 feet in either direction meant more space for one of us but less for the other. I was finally getting space for a workshop, and I didn't want to give up 25% of 'my space' for a larger laundry room. After several non-productive "conversations" about this we decided to come at it from a different angle - Keeping things in perspective, compromising and seeking a win-win.
Janine: My initial strategy was to convince Ken that a laundry room would get WAY more use than his workshop. I was definitely trying to 'win.' It was helpful for me to remember the image of the soccer ball lying on the floor between us. When I pictured the two of us kicking the ball back and forth trying to overcome the problem, I had a much better attitude.
We're going to disagree - that's part of life.
When we do, I have to remember I'm not trying to convince Ken to change his mind. WE are working together to get that soccer ball where it needs to go - to come to a solution. The problem is not 'in' Ken or me - it's outside of us and we're working on it together.
It's very possible to disagree with someone and still love them. Which of the 8 strategies above, can you use to rise above disagreements, to keep the turmoil to a minimum, and keep your relationship a priority?