• Compromise is not the optimal outcome when resolving conflict. It seems like it is. Compromise results in only a partial win for each. Yet many couples are quick to compromise or “split the difference.” It sounds fair, but a split down the middle may not always be fair. It is an easy out for those not willing or able to be more assertive. An assertive person will strive to maximize the outcome. And, also cares about the other person enough to help maximize their outcome, you have a true win-win. Thus, the ideal outcome is based on collaboration, where both parties are highly assertive and highly cooperative.

    • Separate the people from the problem. Focus on the facts and substantive matters, not on personality issues.
    • Involve other people, accept their input, and gain their support. Inviting the participation of others can reduce the chances of conflict later. This could also mean using a third party to help mediate a conflict.
    • Communicate clearly and openly. Conflict is almost always a communication problem. By keeping the lines of communication open, honest, and straightforward, you can resolve conflict more easily and minimize the chances of having a conflict in the first place.
    • Confront difficult issues frankly, fairly, and directly. Not only are these key to effective communication, they make you more credible.
    • Address conflict in the early stages before it gets out of hand. Conflicts have a way of snowballing, and are more difficult to resolve as time goes by.
    • Establish procedures for managing conflict and make sure all parties understand them. Do you have such procedures in place at your couple? Do you have a set of “rules of engagement” for resolving disputes in your marriage? A clear set of ground rules can help keep the peace in any relationship.