Rules of the Game

Any good game has clearly defined rules, roles and strategies if you want to win. Think about relational conflict like you think about a game of football. There are different players with different roles, shared strategies and shared objectives with the ultimate goal of winning the game.

The Rules of the Game are for the same goal, to give you success in managing conflict and getting rid of the bitterness that plagues our relationships.

1. Same TEAM

Know that you are fighting for your relationship, not to make a point, not to win, not to beat your mate down. Know that your mate is not your opponent.

2. One PLAY

Call only one play at a time and make it specific. Make sure that your one issue will improve your marriage. Stay on topic, don’t Snow Ball. A rolling snowball picks up all the garbage in its path and gets bigger and bigger! Don’t bring up past arguments or other random unresolved issues.

3. Stay In The Game

A coach told his football players to “Play hurt” meaning that even if you get bumped and bruised, get past the pain and stay focused on the goal.

If you are an avoider and you tend to run out on your team, then your relationships will suffer. Take it for the team!

4. L.U.V.

Imagine that you are the quarterback and you just received the play from the coach. What do you have to do?

Listen – Stop, pay attention and really focus on what has just been communicated.

Understand – Don’t reinterpret the play, but try to understand the play from your coach’s point of view. In the case of relational conflict, try to put yourself in your mate’s shoes.

Validate – Use your communication skills to relay the play. Mirror back what your mate said, “what I heard you say is…” Validate your mate’s feelings by letting your mate know that you know how they feel. “I know you are scared, I know you are frustrated.”

5. Personal Foul

If you are Albert Haynesworth or T.O., you know the impact that a personal foul can have on your game. In the game of managing conflict, here’s our list of bad plays:
• Name Calling
• Cursing
• Button Pushing
• 3rd Party Testimonials (my sister thinks so too!)
• No Superlatives (never, always)
• No non-verbal’s (eye rolling, head shaking, etc.)

6. Time Out

Have you ever seen a coach get triggered when he sees a bad call? You get a red flag when you get over heated. You need to Back Off, Stop action when you get triggered. The red flag give you time to review the play with a cooler head. Agree to get back in the game as soon as possible.

7. SCORE – Win Win

Strive for mutually beneficial solutions. Understand that a “win” for all is better than if only one person in the situation had gotten their way.
NEGOTIATE, BARTER, COMPROMISE, SACRIFICE, be creative. Use a pass play, a screen play, a run play. Get to a win/win solution, whatever it takes.

8. Spike the Ball!

Excessive celebration is highly encouraged! When you get through a tough conflict, make sure that you celebrate together! Go out for ice cream, have a happy hour, or everyone’s favorite – make up sex!