Relationship Conflict: Lock Horns or Lock Arms

One of my favorite comic strips growing up was "The Lockhorns." Not so much because it particularly funny (although it was), but because it seemed like a great model for how not to do love relationships.

It was not until recently when someone mentioned the phrase "lock horns or lock arms" did I realize what the title of the comic strip really meant. What occurred to me, besides the fact that I can be a little slow sometimes, is that in love relationships, we always have the choice to either lock horns or lock arms.

Let's take a quick look at how to lock horns, and then some tips for locking arms that you can take home and use.

How to Lock Horns

=>Turn your relationship into a competition and keep score.

=>Make being right the most important goal in any discussion.

=>Take the Sinatra approach: "I did it my way" - be inflexible.

=>Regularly bring up offenses of the past. Often and in detail.

=>Always fight for the absolute correctness of your perception of things and never make room for your partner's perception.

=>put your self first - make sure your needs always get met, at whatever cost.

How to Lock Arms

Learning to lock arms involves making a commitment to choosing one person and making it work. A fairly radical notion in our divorce prone culture.

=>Create a relationship vision. Most couples spend more time planning a two week vacation than they do considering how they would like their relationship to be. Which leads to the question................

=>If we could design this relationship any way we wanted it to be, and we knew we couldn't fail, how would we like it to be?

=>Design a relationship that is a "safe-place." Not just safe from physical or emotional abuse, although of course that is crucial. What I mean is create an environment where it is safe to be your self, feel and think what you feel and think, with room to grow as a person.

=>Make an ongoing, lifetime commitment to do two things:

1)As much as humanly possible, understand a totally different gender than your own. Not better or worse, just radically different. And,

2)Completely understanding one other person. Part of locking arms is the commitment to work at totally understanding one other person in life. Not always an easy thing to do, but consider how good it could feel to be completely understood by someone.

=>Remember that relationship conflict is inevitable. Fighting is optional. It is always a choice.

=>Learn to look at the world through the eyes of your partner. You don't have to agree with how they see things, or even understand it completely. You do need to be able to see through their eyes.

=>Form a partnership that uses each of your own unique skills to the fullest.

The other thing I remember about "The Lockhorns" comic strip was that neither one of them appeared to be very happy with the arrangement. Maybe I'll start a comic strip called "The Lockarms." In the meantime, carry with you the simple reminder "lock horns or lock arms", and see how conflict will go down and your relationship will improve.

Leading relationship expert Jeff Herring is a Relationship Coach, Speaker, and Nationally Syndicated Relationship columnist.

You can read more practical tips, common sense relationship advice and occasional humor at his website

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