Conflict

Eloise and I have all sorts of complicated conflict resolution norms:

– You aren’t allowed to criticize people’s preferences, only their actions.
– If someone is crying, you have to console them before anything else even if you think they are wrong in the disagreement.
– If possible, grievances should be framed as “I’m sad right now“ not “I’m angry at you right now.” (Anger encourages defensiveness, sadness encourages empathy.)
– We take turns. If someone got their way about a thing last week, it’s the other person’s turn to get their way this week.
– We switch sides in arguments to make sure we understand the other person’s side.
– We often let third parties decide who was right in a disagreement between us.
– We often make and write down contracts with each other. These usually have rules built in for what happens if the contract is violated.
– We flip a coin if conflicts are taking too long to resolve.

But the more I think about it the less I think particular rules are important for relationships. What matters is that you have conflict resolution strategies *at all,* not that you have any specific ones.

As an analogy: It’s much more important that you eat food than that you eat any specific food.

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