According to Dr. Laura Ellick, author of Total Wellness for Mommies, women are able to achieve greater emotional wellness through healing relationships. For many of us our home is our “safety zone” where stress melts away and our loved ones lend support. When we damage family relationships we are in danger of losing our personal cheering section. However, effectively working through a disagreement can actually make the relationship stronger. Healing conflicts and wounds can lead to greater depth and intimacy in the relationship. Healing family relationships means handling conflicts with our partner and our children.
1. Partner: Conflict with our partner can be difficult to ignore or to manage, given the tendency for our lives to be so tightly intertwined. We tend to put off discussing our issues in the relationship, which can be harmful, spilling over into areas involving intimacy. Addressing the conflict in a healthy manner ultimately increases intimacy and confidence in the relationship; and moving beyond conflict can indicate a renewed commitment to the relationship. An angry or blaming tone only alienates us. Non-blaming language is effective, suggesting that you are in the same boat and able to solve the problem together. Cursing or calling each other names is never appropriate. Long after the argument ends, the hurt and memories linger. If things get heated, allow a cooling-down period to gather your thoughts. The idea is not to avoid the conflict later on, but to work toward resolving things at a more appropriate time and place. Test whether your partner understands by asking questions, rather than by “hammering at the same broken nail.” Permit your partner to answer. Make sure you understand what you heard by paraphrasing what was said.
2. Children: Conflict with our children can be equally difficult to ignore. Some of us feel we are losing control as our children grow, not realizing they need to become responsible for their own life decisions. We need not force our opinions on them. They really just need to become a critical thinker in a more productive way through our guidance and role modeling. In dealing with conflicts with your children consider their stage of development, so that you can handle the conflict appropriately. As parents, we do the best we can, but we often make mistakes. Unfortunately, we can’t make our children understand this until they themselves have children, but we can approach our children honestly and let them know we hope to repair things.
Being able to work through conflicts can go a long way toward building a stronger relationship with children as they grow from babyhood through childhood to early adulthood. Problems are not to be avoided, but voiced and resolved. Spending joyful time with our children is an ideal means to healing unresolved issues. Children find happiness in playing. For us, acting like a kid again contributes to our emotional wellness and creates a bonding opportunity with our children.