When people think of conflict, they usually think it is the other person who needs to make a change. In other words, the other is most often seen as the cause of conflict and therefore, he or she is the one responsible for changing.
The problem is, when both people think this way, and neither changes, the conflict continues. Conflict that continues frequently gets worse.
If you want things to change, don’t wait for the other person. You change first.
Now I know this rubs many people the wrong way. They ask, “Why do I have to do the work when the other person is the problem?”
Well, you don’t have to change if you don’t want to, but if you want things to improve, someone must step up. If it is you, it just may be that you are the more mature, more insightful person, and you may be better at advancing the needs of your children despite what your ex may say.
The change I am speaking about has nothing to do with agreeing to anything. The change has to do with how one manages oneself and the other person.
Many conflicts have less to do with the issue under debate, but rather associated feelings. Many conflicts wind up being about who started what and who is to blame as a result. In this scenario, the conflict is about defending one’s sense of self. Many people do that by attacking the other. That is how things escalate.
The secret to lowering conflict is resisting shame and blame, and managing ones triggers if feeling shamed or blamed. In this, change is about learning the strategies to remain calm as well as how to listen and remain respectful under fire. No attacking, even if under attack.
The focus is to shift from blame and shame to discussing the actual substance of the matter, and to propose solutions. Stay focused on the issue, not the person. Always redirect to the issue and solutions.
If this remains a challenge, you can opt to meet on your own with a separation coach to gain more insights into conflict management strategies; you can seek the help of a mediator who can help you both communicate with each other; or you can seek the services of a family law lawyer to communicate on your behalf. No matter what you choose, reasonable tone of voice and civility will always be your best friends.