Relationship Rescue: Dealing with conflict

11:42 AM CST on Monday, February 19, 2007 By JUSTIN FARMER / WFAA-TV

When it comes to working through your disagreements, start with listening, openness, and never forget the commitment you made on your wedding day.

“Unfortunately in the culture today, people bail out too fast,” said Fellowship Dallas Senior Pastor Gary Brandenburg, who added that conflict in a relationship can actually be a good thing from time to time.

“People fear conflict; they flee conflict,” he said. “I believe healthy conflict can be a catalyst to growth in the relationship.”

So, if it’s time to grow in your home, set up “rules of engagement” for conflict.

Family law attorney Steve Buholz suggests using a tool to keep things civil. Have you heard of the “talking stick”?

“If you don’t have the stick, you don’t talk.,” he explained. “Keep passing it back and forth. The-whole idea here is: ‘I am going to say what I need to say, and I don’t want to be interrupted.’

The experts say you should focus on the real issues-don’t circle around by talking about mowing the lawn, taking out the trash or folding laundry.

Couples are urged to keep family members-like in-laws and children-out of the fighting. That’s often where things can get ugliest.

And if you really need it, don’t be afraid to seek help. “Oftentimes it’s critical to have that third party­who’s not going to take sides-to listen and to observe how you do conflict,” Brandenburg said, adding that it’s unwise to hold on to excuses.

Most places of worship and many employers have offer free counseling services.