Dealing with Conflict

By Greg Baer M.D.

October 17, 2014

Anger Management, Marriage

It takes a lifetime to learn to be loving and to have a genuinely loving relationship, but there are some “techniques”—of a sort—that can help us at least avoid the destruction of love.

We tend to wait FAR too long in a condition of fear or conflict before we do anything about it. By the time we do choose to behave more effectively, it’s often too late.


1. The MOMENT you feel anything LESS THAN PEACEFUL, it’s time to act.
It doesn’t matter whether the cause of the conflict is YOU or your PARTNER.
So if you are feeling less than peaceful, what can you do?

A. Say to your partner, “I really want to finish this conversation, but I need some time to think. I’ll come and find you in XX minutes so we can talk again.” If you can touch your partner gently while you say this, all the better. Notice that you’re making this all about YOUR ability to finish the conversation, rather than accusing your partner of ill feelings or behavior.
B. There is only ONE proper response from your partner: “Thank you.” NO arguing or insisting that the conversation continue. NOTHING good will happen if you continue speaking in fear or anger.
C. During those XX minutes, do whatever it takes to regain a peaceful feeling. Meditate. Pray. Read one of the Real Love books. Write or call a wise person. Whatever it takes.
D. Then you have a serious responsibility to find your partner in XX minutes and try to finish the conversation.
E. Suppose that your second attempt doesn’t go well either? Then you repeat A-D above.
F. Suppose your third attempt doesn’t go well. Then say, “I’m not doing this well. I need some help.” Now you get some counsel from a wise person. You might even arrange a conference call between you, your partner, and a wise person, to work out issues together that might take much longer as individuals.

2. Suppose your partner interrupts you. This is rarely a welcome event, since interruption is usually felt as “I don’t love you.”

Say to your partner, “I wasn’t done talking. Is it all right if I finish before you comment?”

3. Common obstacles to productive conversation include the three “INT’s:” Interrupting, Interrogating, Intimidating.

Interrupting. See above.
Interrogating. Your partner might ask questions that seem intrusive or unkind. Follow the pattern of conflict avoidance in #1 above.
Intimidating. Your partner may try to persuade you to their point of view by force of argument or force of personality. If you feel like you’re being pushed, follow the pattern of #1 above.

Don't know where to start?

Start here:

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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