Conflict Resolution Skill #6: Prioritize.

In resolving conflict within marriage, I have proposed that the main purpose of a marriage relationship is to be creative: physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  Joy results from the successful resolution of the natural conflict that arises when two individuals choose to share their lives together.

In skill number 5 the task was to utilize this creative force by brainstorming possible solutions to a conflict in a spirit of cooperation.  This list of possible solutions should include practical as well as unusual or bizarre solutions.

For example, let’s assume that the conflict to be resolved is disciplining of children. Each parent has come into the relationship with an idea of how children should be disciplined.  It is rare that these two points of view will agree completely.  Some blending of the two points of view is necessary for the couple to be satisfied with the resulting process of discipline. The blending or joining of the two points of view is conflict resolution.

In skill 5 we move beyond “either-or” thinking: your way versus my way into “our way”.  The result of the resolution process will be “how we will do it.”

So, using child discipline as the issue, what are some possible solutions to this conflict?

1. Use the father’s way of disciplining.

2. Use the mother’s way of disciplining.

3. Give the children up for adoption.

4. Refuse to discipline.

5. Hire a nanny to discipline.

6. Send the children to private school for discipline.

7. Work together to develop “our” plan.

(There are an unlimited number of possible solutions)

I trust that you can tell the process here.  Some of these “solutions” are not practical or acceptable, while others will very easily be seen as workable. The point of the creative exercise is to demonstrate that the couple is not stuck: there are other options.  In skill 6 we begin to prioritize these options.

Adopting the children out may be tempting on a tough day, but most parents very quickly reject this solution.  However, not all parents do.  Some parents have used this option as being the best for the children.  It is an option, just not the best for this couple.

The cost of a private school or nanny may preclude using these solutions and so they move lower on the priority list.  Eventually the couple arrives at a solution with which they both can agree.  In this case it is solution #7: To work together to develop “our” plan.

The idea behind this process is to use the natural desire for creativity between partners to resolve conflict.  This is done through allowing each person to safely share their individual perspective, then to lovingly join these perspectives in a creative way.  The result is the list developed in skill 5.  These solutions are then prioritized in skill 6 into a workable list.

I’ll present the next skill in tomorrow’s post.

Thanks for reading and I would appreciate your comments to this post.


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