1. Conflict is your friend. There are differences in every relationship - what makes or breaks a marriage is how partners choose to resolve those conflicts. Ignoring them is not the solution. That would be like ignoring cancer in the hope that it will go away by itself. Actually when conflicts are resolved successfully, the relationship can move to an even higher level of stability and intimacy. Use the following tips to resolve conflicts in your marriage.

2. Listen with empathy. Empathy is your ability to see things from your partner's perspective. Listen to your partner and tune in to his/her feelings. Whatever your partner is feeling "makes sense" from his or her perspective. When you start to "get it", you will know not only what your partner is feeling - you will also understand why. You are ready for the next step.

3. Respond with empathy. Tell your partner what you think he/she is feeling based on what you've heard. For example, your partner tells you about frustration at your lack of support. However you sense not just frustration, but anger as well. So you respond, "You're frustrated about my not being there for you, and this makes you really angry, too." If you didn't get it right, your partner will tell you and you can correct your response.

4. Make it sweet. Nobody likes to be scolded. So to avoid provoking a "fight or flight" reaction from your mate, always include the positive. Angry because your mate is not spending enough time with you? The reason you're so angry is because you care so much about your partner and your relationship. Express those feelings of love as strongly as you can! That sweetness will make what follows a lot easier to swallow.

5. Talk about your feelings - not your mate's failure. "When I came home from work yesterday I really wanted to talk to you about what happened. When I wasn't able to I felt totally alone." Stating it this way is much more likely to get a positive response from your mate than "You're never there when I need you."

6. Look for win-win solutions. Don't settle for a compromise "lose-lose" solution. In an atmosphere of love and trust, couples can come up with creative solutions that are satisfying to both partners.

7. Plan. Once you've come up with an idea, plan out the details carefully so that it is clearly understood. You may even want to write out the details, including what to do if the unforeseen prevents you from following through. For example, maybe your solution is to spend every Saturday afternoon going for a quiet walk together. What will you do if an emergency comes up? Will you skip the walk until the following week or reschedule it for during the week?

8. Follow-up. Remind one another of your solution and check on a regular basis to see how it is working. If necessary, discuss the situation again and review the results of your first solution. Make adjustments and try again.

Author's Bio: 

James Lucoff is director of empathic coaching associates,
providing quality relationship skills training via internet-based distance learning workshops. http://empathic.homestead.com