Emotional Conflict Resolution
January 11, 2017 1:43 PM   Subscribe

I need to learn Conflict Resolution with respect to romantic relationships. The book Getting to Yes by William Ury is cited as the classic text on Conflict Resolution. It may be outdated and not focused on emotional aspects however. What can you recommend, books or otherwise, as a direction for me? .
posted by falsedmitri to Human Relations (16 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Getting to Yes is a phenomenal text. It's short and used copies are plentiful, so I suggest giving it a shot! It's very readable and the concepts have broad application outside of diplomacy and politics.

Another option: It's been a while since I've read it, but I recall the subject being discussed in great depth in The Ethical Slut. It's primarily a book about polyamory, but good relationship skills are the bedrock (!) of polyamory.

Several love columnists and bloggers are also great at this sort of thing. Off the top of my head, Pervocracy, Captain Awkward, and yes, occasionally Savage Love. I haven't vetted them in a while.
posted by terragone at 1:52 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

The primary resource is Fighting for Your Marriage by Howard Markman and Scott Stanley. It has very useful, practical tools and is based on years of scientific research. John Gottman's book is essential too. Another resource I recommend is Stephen Stosny and Pat Love's book How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.

I've used all of these to help couples in our marriage classes. Also helps me.
posted by cross_impact at 1:52 PM on January 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oh yeah, the books aimed at married couples, but they work for all love relationships. (Except step family marriages, where the advice is slightly different in some areas, but the core tools are rock solid there too.)
posted by cross_impact at 1:54 PM on January 11, 2017

Seconding John Gottman. His books are extraordinarily helpful. You can get a good introduction to his work in the lecture videos that start here.

I've also gotten a lot from Aaron Beck's Love Is Never Enough: How Couples Can Overcome Misunderstandings, Resolve Conflicts, and Solve Relationship Problems Through Cognitive Therapy.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:55 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Getting to Yes and The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator are both research based and were both required texts for my college class on "Negotiation and Conflict Management." They are both excellent. The first is shorter and an easy read. The second is much meatier and very worth the effort to get through it, but if you need immediate help, read the first one as you can get through it in, like, a weekend.
posted by Michele in California at 1:56 PM on January 11, 2017

Word of warning about John Gottman-- he subscribes to some bullshit patriarchal "men evolved to be reactive, women evolved to be nurturing" pseudoscience, and he makes claims about prediction that aren't actually backed up by the work he's done. I found his book to be actively harmful and damaging within like...the first few chapters. I do not consider him to be a credible source.

Nonviolent Communicatiom seems to get recommended a whole bunch. Conscious Loving is also really good.
posted by schadenfrau at 1:58 PM on January 11, 2017 [12 favorites]

Just to quote Gottman as an example:

"In 85 percent of heterosexual marriages, the stonewaller is the husband. This is not because of some lack on the man’s part. The reason lies in our evolutionary heritage. Anthropological evidence suggests that we evolved from hominids whose lives were circumscribed by very rigid gender roles, since these were advantageous to survival in a harsh environment. The females specialized in nurturing children, while the males specialized in cooperative hunting and protection."

He goes on to talk about how marital conflict is thus harder on men, and that should be accounted for. Gender essentialism derived from shitty science that puts the responsibility for emotional labor on women -- not actually helpful.
posted by schadenfrau at 2:01 PM on January 11, 2017 [13 favorites]

Deborah Tannen covers this in spades.

Note: I am neither her mother nor her agent, though given how often I recommend her work, I understand if anyone assumed that I am.
posted by she's not there at 2:09 PM on January 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

Well you know, John Gray.

This book helped me tremendously.

Good luck.
posted by hz37 at 4:18 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I got a lot out of Crucial Conversations. Helpful for personal relationships but also in work and in other situations.
posted by pazazygeek at 4:30 PM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Fwiw, I had similar issues with John Gray as schadenfrau has with Gottman, except Gray tends to be insulting to both men AND women, rather than just women, e.g., “Men are motivated when they feel needed while women are motivated when they feel cherished.”
posted by she's not there at 6:52 PM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

I recommend Nonviolent Communication. I've seen it dismissed as kumbaya/woo/therapy-speak (and it can definitely be all that depending on how it's practiced), but if you read through the formulaic conversations to the core philosophical suggestions it's pretty powerful.
posted by sibilatorix at 8:50 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I found Difficult Conversations really helpful.
posted by Nilehorse at 2:59 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Assuming you're interested particularly in conflict resolution and mediation in romantic relationships, I got a lot out of Too Good to Leave, Too Bad To Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum when I was working on some relationship junks a few years back.
posted by helloimjennsco at 5:51 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

The "interpersonal effectiveness" module of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy has some very good information about how to talk to other people and how to think about your expectations re: other people's behavior, in addition to managing your own emotions and how you act them out. There are workbooks available from a variety of sources (look on Amazon) which is nice because you have to fill out worksheets which makes you really think, and you could both do it, so you're learning the same skills.
posted by epanalepsis at 7:02 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Research the pursuit-withdrawal cycle (demand-withdraw and pursuer-distancer are alternate search terms). This happens a lot in romantic relationships and it doesn't help matters.

Getting the Love You Want by Hendrix might be too in-depth for your purposes but will always be a relationship improvement favorite of mine.
posted by crunchy potato at 11:57 AM on January 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

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