One of the things I’ve been learning in conflict resolution in significant relationships (especially between spouses) is that the reason why people have over-the-top conflicts is significantly due to the fact that there was poor communication between the people leading up to that fight.

We all know that big fights do not occur out of no where. They are the result of a gradual wear and tear of any combination of annoyance, frustration, bitterness, unforgiveness, and anger. The normal wear and tear of a relationship between two people who gradually find out that they are vastly more different to each other than they first realized boils up into some big issues.

I think it is really essential to learn ways to communicate to each other exactly how we feel before conflicts begin. Because after all, if you listen to most conflicts, the fact that there are “two sides to the argument” is always indicative of miscommunication at work.

To be quite candid, all the while thinking about this, I realize that this is a great learning process for me as I realize my own deficiencies in communication. I realize that as an Asian American as well as a man, our tendencies are generally very passive-aggressive. When we have our “outbursts” very few people understand where it comes from or are really perplexed at such a moment of outrage. But we are not unaware–we keep the things that bother us, annoy us, frustrate us, anger us, etc all on the inside until we blow up.

I have been learning that we can avoid a lot of conflicts by communicating our feelings clearly, quickly, and politely.

Instead of using subtle and indirect language, using clear, humble, polite language. Instead of waiting for the “moment of attack”, for the sake of love, forcing oneself to express themselves immediately, directly, and graciously.

For instance, take someone who is blasting music because they are upset about something. It’s annoying you. To address it, you might say “Why do you have to do that?” Note that this is indirect, because we don’t really want to know why, and by nature of its indirectness, projects condescension.

Instead, we should say something that is affirming of their feelings, like “I see that you’re upset about something and you need the loud music to cope (even though you disagree with their mode of coping). And then being clear on our feelings, like “that really bothers me when it’s so loud.” Sure, probably not the same robotic words, but the clarity in addressing our thoughts is key. That way we won’t end up at counseling saying sweeping statements such as “He always does this” or “she never stops..” which are probably not true.

So yeah… that’s all I got. As I said, still a learning process for me.