The second reason people may have a challenge handling their conflict is their conflict resolution styles. There are three kinds of conflict resolution styles; the fighter, the avoider, and the resolver.
THE FIGHTER: The fighter is that person who would generally have a screaming match. They say what they feel like they feel it, and may or may not use abusive words. For many of these people, once they have had is an exchange, they are done and can now calm down.
THE AVOIDER: An avoider is a person that doesn’t want to hurt anybody, or be hurt by any. They do not generally like conflict, so they run away from conflict.
You may find them visibly angry, but they will not say anything; instead, they would suppress their feelings turning the attention to other things like; food, eating more during the times, bury themselves in work, go out with friends for long hours or go on a spending spree. Some could go shopping, even buy things they don’t need or have a fling/one-night stand, etc. They do not confront their issues.
THE RESOLVER: The resolvers are the type of people that will sit together and discuss their issues on a ‘round table,’ without screaming, reprimanding, or criticising the other person, taking turns to speak and listen. These people use the ‘I’ statements very well in expressing their feelings, say what they feel about the issue, and come to a compromise.
When people of the same conflict resolution style get married, it’s usually easier for them since they understand each other.
Challenge is when people marry others that have different conflict resolution styles with them. Like an avoider marrying a resolver, every time the resolver would ask for a sit-down, the other person would give an excuse why the time is not convenient or claim there is nothing wrong.
I remember Emeka and Ene’s story; Emeka is a classic fighter. He would shout when angry, sometimes would stand to his feet to express his feelings.
In his opinion, he used the words that best describe his feelings and the situation, but every time he talked on top of his voice to Ene (a resolver), she would excuse herself from the room. An action he considers very disrespectful.
She could not comprehend how an enlightened man like Emeka would shout at the top of his voice as if she or their children are his enemies. For her, his words and actions are hurtful, and for days after, she would still be nursing her wounds from the “screaming match.”
Her plea to him for years has been ‘can we talk like adults about this please?’ He feels insulted by this statement and says she is insulting him.
When we have people of different conflict resolution styles getting married, they would have to let each other know what’s happening to them emotionally. Why they act the way they do and work at a more agreeable system to resolve their conflicts.
Ene could say to her husband during a fight; you are beginning to raise your voice, and right now, I feel like running away. Can you make this conversation a little safer for me? Or can we talk about this later?
Emeka would have to learn to wait and speak when he is less angry, resisting the urge to say anything that comes to him when he is angry. He would have to learn self-soothing techniques.