We have been listing the ineffective ways of dealing with conflict. You and your partner may want to add more or delete some that I have listed. Make it fit your relationship.
5. We will never use 'honesty' as an excuse to say unkind things. Our honesty will be tempered by love.
Commentary: I have found that the people who put us down justify their actions by saying, 'I'm just being honest. You know me, I say what I think.' That is supposed to excuse the wound they just gave us. Isn't it interesting that the same treatment doesn't work with them? If we treated them the same way, they would be crushed or furious. It is important to model how we want to be treated. Our partner is more likely to hear what we have to say if we are honest in a caring and nonjudgmental way. One of the best non-offensive ways of sharing is to share our criticism as an observation.
6. We will not resort to name calling.
7. We will try not to bring up the past as a weapon to win the argument. We can bring up the past if it relates to what we are discussing and if it is for clarification.
8. We will not hit or threaten our partner.
9. We will not attack our partner through our children.
10. We will not cut off the discussion by making premature promises or apologies.
11. We will not use the other person's vulnerabilities against them. Sensitive and vulnerable areas will be treated as holy ground and not used as weapons.
12. We will always respect our partner's confidence and will keep everything discussed within our relationship.
13. We will not use long periods of silence or running off as weapons or as 'solutions.'
14. We will avoid 'hot words' or 'absolute words' such as 'should,' 'ought,' 'you always,' and 'you never.'
The above list will give you some ideas as to what you might use in designing your own Conflict Covenant. Next month I will present the second half of the Conflict Covenant: a method for handling the conflict.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700
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