Conflict Resolution in Relationships - Guest Post

Conflict Resolution in Relationships - Guest Post

Guest Post - Conflict Resolution in Relationships

HOPE MIRLIS is a wedding officiant, premarital counselor and offers a wedding yoga practice, all through her company, A More Perfect Union. She is a scoop of educator, a sprinkle of performer, a dash of administrator and a whole lot of positive, nurturing energy. 

After growing up in New York, Hope moved down south to Atlanta, then hopped over to Northern California. After a classmate asked her to officiate her wedding, Hope stepped into her true calling. Over the next 2 years, she created a premarital counseling program, founded A More Perfect Union and moved back to her home base of New York - Here is a guest post from Hope Mirlis

Guest Post | By Hope Mirlis

Having your first disagreement is a milestone in any relationship. How you move past the conflict speaks to the strength of your partnership. Welcome to a deep dive into Conflict Resolution.

Let me get this out of the way - disagreements are not bad. It means you have an opinion and care about a certain topic or decision. However, your partner has their own opinions and they may not fully align with yours! Therefore, if we want our relationships to last, we need to fight fair, and embrace strategies that resolve and not avoid our conflicts.

Early in relationships - or even friendships for that matter, we are largely agreeable. We put our best foot forward, and in an effort to woo our partner we may appear low maintenance. We let them have their way saying, “whatever you want.” Look how easy-going I am!

However, as the partnership deepens we begin to share more of ourselves. I like to think of a relationship like an iceberg. I know, dangerous, right? At first glance, we only see a little bit of what our potential mate has to offer. In turn, we also show very little. We don’t want to open up too quickly or be vulnerable too fast. We need to make sure that trust is present and over time we begin to share more. Remember that only 10% of an iceberg is visible above the water. The remaining 90% is hidden below. Gradually, as we share experiences and build connections, we start to express our desires and opinions, our beliefs and needs. And not surprisingly, these may differ from our partner.

When couples come to me for premarital counseling, they are either preparing for marriage or want to deepen their connection. Therefore, they are usually quite open and vulnerable already. They have shared a lot with each other, and want to be prepared for marriage or just strengthen their relationship, if they are not interested in tying the knot. So, when we talk through conflict resolution, I see it as an intersection of open communication and clear decision making

Open communication is both clearly expressing what’s on your mind, as well as fully listening. If you are the one sharing, it’s important to make sure you know what you want or need. You may need to process or figure that out on your own first. That may mean writing your thoughts down or taking a moment to process in your head. Now you should be able to express it with clarity. While your partner is sharing, you must be able to actively listen. This is just taking in what they have to say without seeing when you can jump in with your own thoughts or opinions. 

Open communication is also about being comfortable sharing. We may go back to our “agreeable” ways and convince ourselves that something that bothers us may not matter. It’s important to share with our partner if something upsets us. Just as it’s helpful to share when we like or are touched by something they did or said. These are ways to continue to build connections!

In terms of decision making, consider how you make decisions in the relationship. Are small decisions easier than big ones? Does one of you tend to lead? Do you need time to research options? Do you tend to go with your gut and make rash decisions? Your habits may differ from those of your significant other. Do your disagreements stem from those differences?

Now, back to conflict resolution. 

Conflicts result when we disagree with something our loved ones do or say, and we don’t communicate openly or fairly. Again, disagreements are not bad, you just have to work together to work through them together in a compassionate way.

Some questions to get you started: 

  1. Do you know what's at the heart of your fight?
  2. Is the disagreement based on differences in beliefs or desires?
  3. Are you able to share these with your partner?

Why are these questions important

Sometimes disagreements may seem to be about something minor, but when you look closer, they are about something deeper. A past hurt or deeply held belief. Therefore, you may need to take a moment to consider WHY something that your loved one does or says bothers you so much.

Secondly, you need to be able to share these feelings with each other in a compassionate way. So, no finger pointing or blaming, please. If that’s a challenge for you both, I’m happy to help guide the conversation.

Here are some tools:

  1. When emotions are high, discussion is nearly impossible. If you’re fighting with your partner, anger or frustration may cause you to raise your voice or completely shut down. Call a timeout. Use a code word (before you say something you don’t mean) that stops the conversation. Decide together how long the time out should be - 10 minutes? 30 minutes? an hour? - and take a walk or do something to calm down and re-center. And then come back and try again.
  2. During disagreements, it may be helpful to pause and ask the other how important this is to you. If the other is at a 9 out of 10, and you’re a 3, you may want to let them have their way. If you’re both a 10, you will have to negotiate.
  3. It may be helpful to set a timer (for 5-10 minutes) for small decisions to be made. This will give you time to do simple research and come to a consensus. For larger decisions, perhaps you want to allot a few days or a week (and put the deadline on the calendar) to make sure that things get done AND there’s time to consider some options.

Hope is a registered New York City Wedding Officiant, an Ordained Interfaith Minister, and a Certified Yoga Instructor. She has been guiding couples around the world from the “Yes!” to the “I Do.” since 2009. If you’d like to learn more about Hope and her services, you can learn more here and/or email Hope at

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