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Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at
(847) 498-5611.

How to Differ With Your Partner
Without Hurting Your Partner

by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

Hurt feelings, differences in viewpoints, unresolved issues, and out-and-conflict  can be easily dealt with in your relationships. You need only master some basic techniques to assist you in smoothing over the inevitable rough edges of your relationships.

Believe me, I know of what I speak. I’ve written a book (Making Molehills Out of Mountains) that teaches people how to safely and effectively resolve conflict. I’ve taught thousands of people just like you how to replace hurt feelings and resentments with understanding and compassion.

The first step is the most important step. Without it’s completion, you won’t be able to get anywhere with the people in your life. You and the person you are in conflict must be of a similar mindset when it comes to the resolution of your disagreements—you both must agree that you want to address the issues that exist between the two of you rather than burying your head in the sand.

Second, and you’ll find this trite but nonetheless true—communication is the key to facilitating understanding and healing where only hurt feelings and wounded pride exists. There’s one important key to good communication that I want you to focus on—understanding what your partner is attempting to tell you and communicating that understanding to your partner. Common sense—right? But the problem is when you’re in the midst of a heated discussion, when someone is coming at you fast and furious, when you’re more focused on dodging the emotional daggers that are being flung at you than listening empathically to your partner, it’s likely that you’ll be flooded more with anger, hurt, and resentment than love, compassion, and forgiveness. When this occurs, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to hear what your partner is saying to you—much less understand and sympathize with your partner’s plight.

So, when you’re on emotional overload and your mind shuts down and you’re no longer able to focus on what you’re partner is saying to you, stop the discussion. When you’re no longer able to listen to what is being said to you, take some time out until you’re able to listen to your partner.

 The last suggestion that I have for you is to be mindful of how hurtful your remarks can be. Don’t say things that you’ll regret later. Words cut sharply. Don’t let your discussion be reduced to name-calling, labeling, and judgmental taunts. It’s okay to feel angry but it isn’t okay to act your anger out all over your partner. When you have gone too far in what you’ve said to your partner, acknowledge the inappropriateness of your remarks as well as the hurt that you’ve caused your partner. A simple apology can be an amazing antidote for insensitive remarks that may leave permanent scars.

Most people prefer to let sleeping dogs lie. You know that old saying about discretion being the better part of valor. But with the right attitude, the right approach, and the mindfulness that you don’t have to cut and maim your partner in order to work through the issues that exist between you and your partner, you can more effectively talk about your differences with your partner rather than punish your partner for creating those differences.

Let me offer you the following suggestions to help you make it safer for you and your partner to fight. Just remember, although expressing your anger is never easy it can be easier for you if you follow some simple do’s and don’t’s.

Bridge Builder’s Checklist
1.)  Commit to having clearly defined limits that distinguish the expression of anger from the acting out of rage and violence.
2.) Commit to honoring your partner’s dignity.
3.) Commit to focusing on how you were affected by the event or circumstance that precipitated your anger.
4.) Commit to focusing on behavior rather personality.
5.) Commit to expressing yourself in I statements rather than You statements.
6.) Commit to not blame your partner.
7.) Commit to not attacking your partner.
8.) Commit to not belittling your partner.
9.) Commit to not throwing old history at your partner.
10.) Commit to not editorializing about the quality of your partner’s character.
11.) Commit to not interpreting your partner’s motivation.
12.) Commit to not analyzing your partner’s character.
13.) Commit to not using the words of your partner against them.
14.) Commit to not issuing ultimatums.

For more information about how to resolve conflict in your relationships read my free online books, Building Better Bridges: Creating Great Relationships With the People Who Matter Most and Making Molehills Out of Mountains.





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