Navigating relationship challenges? Don’t worry brother, I’ve been there too. Every conscious, modern man knows that the path to a harmonious relationship isn’t without its bumps and bruises. God knows I’ve had enough of those and thankfully learned a lot from my mistakes. So today I want to share some of the more potent perspectives and insights that have taught me how to solve conflict in relationships. Here’s the modern man’s guide I wish I had from the beginning.
Understanding The Emotional Roots of Conflict
If there’s one thing I’ve learned being a man working towards a harmonious partnership, it’s that our past has a sneaky way of creeping into our present, especially when when we’re trying to learn how to solve conflict in relationships. Let’s put on our diving gear and delve deep into understanding our emotional roots.
The Ghosts of Relationships Past
Remember that fight you had about who left the milk out? Probably it wasn’t just about the milk, was it? Often, our reactions to present situations are heavily influenced by unresolved emotions from our past. Maybe it reminded you of times you felt unappreciated or overlooked, be it in childhood, past relationships, or even earlier phases of your current one. Recognizing these “ghosts” can be the first step in ensuring they don’t haunt your present.
Mapping Out Emotional Triggers
Imagine walking into a room and unknowingly pressing a button that sets off an alarm. That’s what emotional triggers can feel like. Something seemingly innocuous can ignite a barrage of emotions. The key is to identify these triggers. Is it feeling disrespected? A fear of abandonment? Once you pinpoint them, you can work on understanding and communicating them to your partner. A heads-up can make a world of difference.
As a coach who’s worked with hundreds of men I’ve seen a wide variety of emotional triggers play out in relationships. Not to mention I experienced many of them myself. Here are some of the most common triggers to become aware of and start communicating when they arise.
Feeling Disrespected: Many men value respect deeply, and any perception of being belittled or dismissed can evoke strong emotional reactions.
Perceived Lack of Appreciation: Like everyone, men want to feel appreciated. If they feel their efforts are overlooked or undervalued, it can lead to feelings of resentment or inadequacy.
Being Seen as Incompetent: Men often want to be perceived as capable. Expressing doubt in their competence or overtly doubting their decisions can be triggering.
Avoidance or Withholding Affection: Physical and emotional closeness are essential in relationships. If a man feels like affection is being used as a bargaining tool, it can result in feelings of hurt or rejection.
Being Compared Unfavourably to Others: Whether it’s to a past partner, a friend, or even a fictional character, unfavourable comparisons can lead to feelings of inadequacy.
Lack of Trust: Accusations or implications of lying or being unfaithful, especially if baseless, can evoke strong negative emotions.
Communication Shutdown: Feeling like they’re not being listened to or being shut out from expressing feelings can be emotionally triggering.
Financial Pressures: Men, in many cultures, are often still seen as the primary providers. Comments or implications about their financial contribution or capability can be deeply sensitive areas.
Jealousy: Though it’s not exclusive to men, feelings of jealousy can be a powerful trigger if they perceive another individual as a threat to their relationship.
Loss of Autonomy: Feeling like they are losing their sense of self or personal freedoms can evoke feelings of entrapment or resentment.
Make sure when you are expressing these triggers that it’s with a certain ownership and highlight that you know it wasn’t your partners intention to push that sore spot in you. It’s likely that these triggers were formed years ago or perhaps even in your childhood, so putting all the blame on your partner is not the best way to go. Nor does it represent the actual truth of the situation and conflict your currently experiencing.
A solid awareness over your triggers, the meaning you make from them and how they are conditioning your responses is an essential starting point for learning how to solve conflict in relationships. If we don’t know what we’re feeling or why it’s upsetting us so much, it’s far more likely we’ll get stuck in reactivity and simply blame our partner instead of communicating openly about why certain things have hurt us.
The “Why” Behind the “What”
We often know what we feel but are in the dark about why we feel that way. To truly learn how to solve conflict in relationships, we need to grasp the ‘why’. Did that offhand comment from your partner about your cooking sting because it echoed a parent’s criticism from years ago? By dissecting the ‘why’, we get a clearer picture of the root cause, allowing for deeper understanding and healing.
In my personal experience the ‘Why’ is something that gradually unfolded as I became more conscious of the way my past had shaped me. Certain things really get to me and others I find easy to brush off. Understanding the roots of my triggers has made a world of difference in my relationship because I’m able to communicate much more clearly. This allows my lover to empathise with me much more easily and we tend to resolve conflict quickly.
Embracing the Journey Inwards
Diving deep isn’t always a pleasant swim. Encountering suppressed feelings or memories can be challenging. But think of it as an emotional cleanse. It’s about purging the toxins that have been subtly poisoning your reactions and interactions. Remember, this journey inwards isn’t about assigning blame, especially not to yourself. It’s about understanding, forgiving and ultimately growing. Hopefully together.
Understanding our emotional roots is like cleaning out an old attic. It’s dusty, sometimes messy, and you’ll come across things you forgot were there (willingly or unwillingly). But once this form of shadow work is done, you make space for new, positive experiences and memories. So, dive deep, discover, and declutter by shining the light on your darkest corners. Your relationship will thank you for it.
I remember digging up many old memories and things I was deeply ashamed about from my past relationships and childhood. This was a deeply uncomfortable process, but I knew that those things had contributed to making me into the man I am today and that to leave them buried was not serving me. There were certain topics I’d avoid or that would trigger me when raised by others, so I decided to confront them head on by owning the shit out of them so they could no longer hurt me.
One such topic was the sexual abuse i’d experienced in my youth and eventually I worked up the courage to talk about it with my lover. She cried for days and it was heavy, but ultimately it brought us much closer and strengthened our relationship because I didn’t have to carry those heavy secrets anymore. This is just a small example that I hope will give you the push to start integrating your shadows too.
Level-Up Your Listening Skills: Beyond the Words
As we continue our journey into the vast landscape of modern relationships, let’s address a skill that’s been both a saviour and a stumbling block for many: listening. A simple concept and yet in the moment of being triggered this can often be a hard thing to enact. Yet if done well it can be the ultimate tool when learning how to solve conflict in relationships. Let’s dive into the art of listening – and I’m not just talking about nodding while secretly contemplating what you’re going to say next.
The Symphony of Silence
There’s an age-old saying that silence is golden. In the realm of relationships, this couldn’t be more accurate. Sometimes, the most powerful thing you can do is just… pause. By giving your partner the floor without interruptions, you convey respect and show that their feelings matter.
We all have a deep desire and need to feel understood and this is often the first thing to fly out the window in moments of conflict. Therefore one of the most powerful moves we can make is to truly listen to our partner to fully understand their perspective before we start pushing ours.
Active Listening: The Unsung Hero
Active listening isn’t just about being quiet while the other person speaks; it’s about being mentally present. It’s the difference between hearing and really listening. Lean in, make eye contact, and absorb. Reflect back what you’ve heard, and ask clarifying questions. Be the detective of the conversation; seek to understand you lover deeply.
Thins about your most recent argument or disagreement with your partner. How quickly would it have resolved if they just listened to you expressing your pain? They didn’t fight back or get defensive and simply validated your pain and listened until you felt fully understood, it probably would have dissolved in minutes right? Now let’s try to flip the script and remember this simple concept next time our partner is expressing their pain to us.
I know it’s not always that simple as our brain in conflict does some crazy stuff, including making the other person an enemy and assigning them all manner of labels and bad intentions. Yet almost always they never wanted to cause us harm. So often the disagreements we have arise from poor communication and triggers from past events that hurt us. Active listening can be one of the fastest ways to clear that minefield and learn how to solve conflict in your relationship.
Reading Between the Lines During A Fight
Communication is as much about what isn’t said as what is. Body language, tone, even the pauses can speak volumes. Tapping into these non-verbal cues can provide insight into underlying emotions or concerns. So, the next time she mentions “It’s fine” with crossed arms and a raised eyebrow, chances are, it might not be.
Developing more emotional and relational intelligence is the key towards more conscious communication. The more attuned and present we can become in our approach towards our lover, the easier and faster conflicts become.
Resist the Urge to “Fix” Your Partner
This is a hard one lads, I get it. Our inner superhero often wants to swoop in and save the day. But sometimes, our partners don’t need solutions—they need understanding. Before jumping into problem-solving mode, ask, “Do you want some feedback or do you just need me to listen?” Trust me, this simple question can be a game-changer.
Levelling up your listening skills is like upgrading your relationship software. It smoothes glitches, boosts performance, and enhances user experience (wink). Remember, in the grand theatre of life, sometimes the best role you can play is that of an audience. An audience that is attentive, present, and appreciative. Trust me, this skill alone can revolutionise your understanding of how to solve conflict in relationship.
Personally I’ve trained the habit of catching myself trying to ‘fix’ my partner. As soon as I notice it I own it. “Hey babe, I realise I was just trying to fix your emotional problem with my logic.. My bad” We then laugh about it a bit and I go back to holding space for her. Old habits die hard so a gradual and forgiving approach towards developing more emotional capacity is needed. Remember, a healthy vibrant relationship is a marathon, not a sprint.
The Strength in Vulnerability: Break the Traditional ‘Masculine’ Mould
As we embark further into the dynamic universe of relationships, let’s tackle a concept that’s been often misunderstood, especially by us gents: vulnerability. Now, before you picture yourself as a damsel in distress or recall that time you cried watching a Pixar movie (don’t worry, “Up” gets me every time too), let’s redefine what vulnerability in the 21st-century man looks like.
Redefining Masculine Armour
We’ve all grown up with the notion that men need to be tough, unyielding, the proverbial rocks. But rocks erode over time when constantly battered. Sometimes, our greatest strength lies in letting down our guard. Shedding the rigid armour allows for flexibility, adaptability and genuine connection. It’s about acknowledging that being human isn’t a sign of weakness.
I learned this one the hard way in the earlier years of my relationship. She was longing for more intimacy and emotional connection but I held this subconscious limiting belief that this would weaken me in her eyes and that she would use my emotions against me in the future and thereby gain power over me.
Ultimately this was because deep down I didn’t trust myself and I was actually very afraid of abandonment (typical nice guy syndrome stuff – See my guide here). Therefore my mask of masculine strength was actually a facade because I wasn’t able to truly be authentic. When I finally stripped off my armor, not only did our relationship flourished, but my masculinity deepened as I started to integrate emotional intelligence into my arsenal.
Express Your Feelings, Don’t Repress Them
How many times have we swallowed our feelings, thinking it’s the ‘manly’ thing to do? Spoiler alert: Bottling emotions doesn’t end well. It’s like shaking a soda can, eventually, it’s going to explode on you. The majority of our lives decisions are based on emotion, that’s what they’re for. E-Motion = Energy in motion. So allowing your system to process feelings and emotions is the most natural thing in the world.
This is actually the path towards emotional mastery because instead of repressively trying to control and suppress the messages and energy our body is generating we embrace it and learn to get closer to what we feel. In doing so we become intimately familiar and no longer afraid of what’s inside. This is a huge level up. I talk about this common pitfall in my article about the biggest mistakes men make in relationships.
Dismantling the Fear of Judgement
One major hurdle in embracing vulnerability is the looming fear of judgement. “Will I still be seen as strong?” “Will my partner respect me?” True strength stems from authenticity and any relationship built on genuine understanding will benefit and deepen with vulnerable openness on both sides. But since we are men, leading and initiating is masculine in nature, so don’t wait for others to open up, be bold and take the first step.
In addition to this, we must develop the skills to be okay regardless of how others respond to us. Things like learning how to communicate, assert healthy boundaries, validating ourselves internally and confronting our fears are core masculine virtues for us to develop if we want to learn how to solve conflict in relationships.
Vulnerability: A Super Power During Conflict
The beauty of vulnerability is that it fosters a space for your partner to do the same. When both partners share their authentic selves, it creates a foundation of trust, intimacy, and mutual growth. Think of vulnerability as the secret ingredient to a magical relationship recipe. Sprinkle generously.
Breaking the mould of traditional masculinity to embrace vulnerability is like upgrading from a brick phone to the latest smartphone. It’s more intuitive, responsive, and allows for better connections. So here’s to the brave men of the modern age, who understand that tears can coexist with tenacity, and heart-to-heart talks are as essential as physical prowess, perhaps even more so.
In my experience, developing the capacity for vulnerability has radically improved my understanding of how to solve conflict in relationship. It’s often the last thing we want to do when we feel under attack, but if you can open your heart in that way, it often takes the wind out of your partners sails and diffuses the conflict much faster.
Owning Up with Integrity: The Conscious Man’s Responsibility During Conflict
As we sail further into the intricate waters of partnership dynamics, it’s time to drop anchor on a pivotal topic: taking responsibility. No, I’m not talking about admitting who left the toilet seat up (though, come on, gentlemen, it’s a small act with big dividends). It’s about embracing our missteps with honesty and learning from them. Let’s dive in.
The Great Blame Game: Opting Out
Ah, the alluring dance of the blame game. As timeless as the waltz, and twice as intricate. Yet, this is one dance where sitting out is the real victory. Pointing fingers is easy; turning that finger inward and acknowledging our role? That’s where the real growth lies as well as a powerful shortcut that helps us learn how to solve conflict in relationships, the conscious way.
It’s important to acknowledge that in our bid to validate our pain we often want to make the other person responsible and assign blame on them. They in turn will likely do the same to us and we end up fighting over our desire to feel understood. The truth in every conflict is that there are two people hurting and longing for reconnection (if they love each other). Therefore the fastest path is to avoid the knee-jerk reaction we have and approach the situation with a calm head and as much of an open heart as possible.
The Power of Genuine Apology
Let’s get this straight: “I’m sorry you feel that way” isn’t an apology; it’s a deflection. A genuine apology recognizes the error and its impact without excuses. It sounds more like, “I see that my actions have caused you pain, I’m sorry I hurt you. It wasn’t my intention, I’ll be more careful as I see this is a sensitive spot for you” And trust me, this kind of authentic acknowledgment can melt walls faster than a flamethrower.
Walking the Talk: Accountability in Action
Admitting fault is a start; taking corrective action is the encore. Being accountable means ensuring that our future actions align with our words. Promised to be more present during conversations? Swap that phone for attentive eye contact. Pledged to be more understanding? Exercise patience and empathy. It’s the conscious man’s version of flexing muscles, and trust me it’s super attractive in the eyes of the feminine.
I’ve seen the adoration in my lover’s eyes grow steadily over time as I’ve taken more and more accountability for the mistakes I made in the past. This was possible because of my deep self reflection and shadow work that allowed me to see the unconscious and self serving patterns I was stuck in at the time. The more ownership and consciousness I display, the more she respects me as a man and the deeper our love becomes. Simple but powerful stuff. You can learn a bit more about our love story together here.
Lessons Over Laments: The Learning Curve
Mistakes, big or small, come packed with lessons. Instead of dwelling in the land of regrets, why not enrol in the university of personal growth and truly learn how to solve conflict in relationships? When we as men learn to analyze the missteps we make and extract the lesson, we implement the change necessary to avoid the same mistakes in the future.
Owning up with integrity isn’t about self-flagellation, it’s about evolution. As conscious men of the modern age, we’re equipped with the wisdom that true strength lies in admitting weaknesses and turning them into growth opportunities. Here’s to being the heroes of our narratives, not by dodging challenges but by facing them head-on, like a man.
Tapping into External Resources: Wise Men Seek Guidance
Men are somewhat hardwired to have a bit of the lone wolf buried deep inside. I think it’s important to acknowledge that seeking a helping hand doesn’t diminish your stature as a man. Think about it, even the great Hercules had a mentor in Philoctetes. So, if there’s a bit of conflict fogging up your relationship horizon, why not tap into some external resources? The truth is that many other men have walked the path you’re on and like anything we’re seeking to improve, our progress will almost always be faster with helping hands.
Therapy Isn’t For Pussies.
There’s a common misconception that relationship coaching or therapy is something feminine or perhaps simply the final resort when everything’s going south. Not quite right. Think of therapy as a relationship gym, it strengthens the bonds, increases flexibility, and builds endurance.
Far too many guys (and couples) seek therapy or coaching only when shit really hits the fan and the relationship is on the rocks. At which point the major damage is already done and saving the situation is a tall order.
Personally, when I first invested in coaching I was in a similar situation and that relationship did in fact end. We were far beyond the point of no return and the relationship had become very toxic and even physically abusive (her, not me). Having a coach helped me to navigate those dark and stormy waters and ultimately guided me towards the relationship I have today, which is super healthy, passionate and vibrant.
If you’re in need of support and are considering coaching, check out a breakdown of the relationship coaching and mentorship I offer here.
Books, & Workshops: Knowledge is Power
Not every solution requires a couch and a counsellor. Sometimes, picking up a good relationship book or attending a workshop can offer fresh perspectives. Whether it’s understanding love languages or grasping the nuances of effective communication, there’s a goldmine of wisdom out there. Remember the last time you were assembling furniture and turned to that manual? Same principle!
For me, books such as ‘Getting To Zero‘ – By Jason Gaddis, were absolute game changers in learning how to solve conflict in relationships. My lover and I both read it and the tools have helped us immensely to create a much healthier relationship.
Wise Companions: Mentors & Trusted Friends
Sometimes, the guidance we seek lies closer than we think. A trusted friend, a family member who’s been through similar challenges, or even a mentor can offer invaluable insights. The key is to approach someone who can provide objective, non-judgmental advice. Just ensure your confidant isn’t that buddy who thinks every solution lies at the bottom of a beer mug or joint.
Courses & Men’s Groups.
There are options out there that offer a combination of all the above and include men’s communities that are supported by intelligently structured online courses. These offer the ability to educate yourself with a comprehensive curriculum that you can study from home, as well as integrate yourself into a tight-knit band of brothers who are sharing your struggles and helping to keep you accountable. If this calls to you, check out the courses tab for some options to consider, or search for a local group in the area you live.
Conclusion: How To Solve Conflict In Relationships
The journey to becoming a considerate, connected and conscious masculine partner is one that’s marked by highs, lows, learning curves, and enlightening revelations. Much like the peaks and valleys of a mountain range, the beauty of a relationship lies in its dynamism. Each challenge surmounted not only elevates our vantage point but enriches our understanding of our partner and ourselves.
Now, if this guide has whetted your appetite for deeper exploration, The Legendary Lover Online Course and Men’s Group is designed to take you several steps further into mastering the art of modern love. Dive deep into modules that unpack the nuances of emotional intelligence, enhance your intimacy toolkit, and offer actionable strategies that will drastically improve your understanding of how to solve conflicts in relationships. Plus, being called a “legendary lover” has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?
Remember, lads, the quest for a harmonious relationship isn’t about perfection but progression. And as you embark on this ever-evolving journey, arm yourself with knowledge, empathy, and a sprinkle of humour.
Enrol in the The Legendary Lover online course today and embark on the ultimate relationship odyssey