When it comes to the ones we love, it seems like the conflicts we have with them are the hardest to heal. It’s so easy to write off bad friendships, walk away from rude situations, and even delete people on social media. However, with family members, it’s always a little trickier because we love them. We don’t want to cut off the relationship. Most people would prefer to mend the bridges. With that in mind, here are some tricks you can use for dealing with family conflict:
- Walk away to stop arguing, but make sure you come back once you’ve cooled down. There is a misconception you should never walk away from an argument. You’ve likely heard it as “never go to bed angry.” This isn’t always the case. Staying in the moment with the argument can cause the situation to escalate, and this could lead to a much more difficult conflict. Instead, when things get too heated, agree to walk away for a while, and finish discussing it once you’ve calmed yourselves a bit.
- Try to listen instead of dominating the conversation. In the case of conflict it can be hardest thing to do, but when you give the other person the floor it can cut the tension helping the situation to be resolved more easily.
- Figure out where you stand and why. Are you continuing the argument because “you have to be right,” or is the other person legitimately wrong? What can happen in the middle of a fight is that you realize the other person was actually right, but because you don’t want to admit it, you keep arguing until they back down. If you realize you’re wrong, admit it and end it. You could save the relationship by being the bigger person, apologizing, and moving on.
- Forgive and let it go. Jonathan Lockwood Huie said, “Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” The reality is the conflict you’re suffering with may never be resolved. For example, you might never change Aunt Martha’s belief that you should marry someone in your own race/religion/of the opposite sex, or whatever the case may be. Fighting with her every time you see her won’t help either of you. What you can do is forgive her for disagreeing with you, and live your life the way you want to anyway. Sure, it might be difficult at times seeing her at family functions, but you can choose to change the subject or minimize contact if you need to.
Remember that if you try these tricks and the other party continues being combative, that will simply be their choice at some point. You can choose to cut off that relationship if you need to in order to protect your own heart and mind. On the other hand, if it becomes too difficult to keep the peace, but you want to save the relationship, we do have family therapy sessions available. You can learn more about that here.