How to Resolve Relationship Conflicts Series

By Dr. Lawana R. Lofton, PsyD

First, at the core of all conflict resolution skills is to increase communication. When conflict exists, couples find it difficult to discuss how their individual role has impacted the relationship negatively let alone begin to talk about how to initiate sex to improve it.

When there is relationship conflict, does it take a big or small gesture to resolve it? In this article we will explore the impact big and small gestures have on conflict resolution and why a person may have more control over it then they may think just by making small gestures which trigger our “feel good hormones” for bonding and connection.

Why is this important?
All humans have individual preferences. Each unique to the person, while most will agree there are generalizations we can make for all. One of these being gender differences which play a role in generating greater intimacy based on hormones. Another difference being history of comfort with intimacy, experience, and level of one’s sexual desire based on levels of Testosterone. In all intimate relationships which we desire, initially we are willing to meet the other person’s every whim effortlessly, to make them feel happy and content.

Once the elixir of passionate feelings felt during the pursuit fade, then what? Is this not a time for introspection? Is it a time to take pro-active steps to renew the relationship? Or, is it a time to throw in the towel in defeat? In the book Psychological Précipice (p.166) Psychology of Relationships and the Romantic Pursuit, individuals in love initially welcome meeting the needs of a loved one at the expense of meeting their own. Then something subtle changes.

Typically, we are only consumed with thoughts of ourselves and what we must accomplish in daily living, but a person in love becomes filled with thoughts of the loved one displaying increasing behaviors to possess the object of their desire. One’s focus becomes external directed towards pleasing another vice a sole focus on tackling their own daily stressors. A person in love acts differently. They are emotional, and act in impulsive ways giving free will to their desires to possess another. A notable behavioral and emotional shift occurs which prompts increased decisive behavior to pursue their set target of desire victoriously. These are moments of Psychological surrender allowing our internal desires to be satisfied and consumed by novel pleasurable feelings. The pleasurable distraction takes us away from daily stressors and provides a powerful reminder of what is innocent and vulnerable in life; to be wanted, desired, and passionately pursued by another in a genuine way.

There are no right or wrong answers here as all lessons learned in life are based on a learning curve. Learning new information, exploring more, and using targeted behaviors in one’s relationship may prove important in rejuvenating passion in the relationship.

We tend to learn more about ourselves, and others when we actively participate in the process. If we only aimlessly play the role of a passive bystander in our relationships we never risk and grow personally. Even worse, if we give up too easily just because matters become increasingly difficult to navigate, one may run the risk of never learning to overcome relationship conflicts which always surface in all relationships. If we learn to resolve relationship conflicts we gain obviously less conflict. Moreover, one gains a lasting relationship built on mutual respect, and most probable a passionate quality relationship possessing core attributes of emotional maturity.

Subtle changes which occur in a intimate relationship overtime can include increased emotional distance, less desire for intimacy, increased anxieties and stressors on the relationship. Most individuals are motivated by what they stand to gain in relationship exchanges based on the effort they invest. This scenario is typical and can go terribly wrong if the other perceives an unfairness. Then a reciprocal Tit-for-Tat ensues which only wedges further distance between a couple.

Tit-for-Tat is considered a non productive form of behavior to resolving relationship conflict as it is [only ] focused on repaying of wrong done; the repayment of a wrongful action, or injury suffered by inflicting equivalent harm on the other. This only leads to more negative behaviors by each party involved.

Matters of “fairness” and perceived equity all play a role in motivating us to either act, or not. Asking ourselves the big hard questions will help us determine should we act. According to Dr. David Schnarch, PhD., Clinical Psychologist, for a intimate relationship to last, as in Marriage, or with Same-Sex Couples, one would be well advised to ask the tough question…….Do I like this person? When couples are at odds and angry over a situation or misunderstanding, couples are less likely to be intimate with one another let alone have sex with one another.

Oxytocin Impacts Attachment and Connection
It is a known fact women are more prone to respond favorably to small acts of kindness. But have you ever wondered why? Could it be based on hormones we all share?

Like catnip, both Men and Women seemingly render themselves defenseless and energetic when in love and the other extends themselves to them. Small efforts to connect, and show one’s appreciation can have tremendous impact to lowering conflicts both big and small with just a small gesture of kindness extended.
Some operate under the premise it will take a HUGE gesture to resolve arguments, when in fact this may be a waste of man power when only a small gesture will work favorably.

As anxieties lower regarding conflicts felt, greater intimacy can be shared as a couple, which increases greater opportunities for both Men and Woman to increase Oxytocin levels naturally.

Both Men and Women have the hormone Oxytocin at the same levels and release this hormone during orgasm.

Oxytocin in Men
In Men, the release of Oxytocin stimulates the prostate causing muscle contractions and the sensitization of nerves which impact the feeling of more intense orgasms as higher levels of Oxytocin are released. Which in turn, fosters a sense of connection and bonding with ones mate. Men can also experience the impact of Oxytocin through being with their children, or through touch.

Oxytocin in Woman
In woman, Oxytocin, is a hormone traditionally understood to be released during childbirth to aid in the bonding process between mother and child. This hormone is also released during orgasm, and other positively perceived bonding or attachment experiences felt. It is commonly referred to as the “feel good hormone” for both Men and Women.

In a study with Male and Female mice that lacked a receptor for the hormone Oxytocin had problems establishing trust and normal social relationships. Our study indicates that Oxytocin may be mediating emotional experiences in close relationships. Dr. Uväs-Moberg 

According to Dr. Kerstin Uväs-Moberg, MD., PhD., author of The Oxytocin Factor, and publisher to scientific papers in Europe and USA, the hormone Oxytocin can help lower levels of stress to achieve calming effects and a greater sense of connection with others. It is also proposed Oxytocin may be strongly mediating emotional experiences in close relationships.

In this Video with Dr. John Gray, author of a new book Venus on Fire, Man on Ice, he explains how to bring out the best in a Man. Dr. Gray contends hormones of Oxytocin and Testosterone work in almost sync to lower anxieties felt in a relationship. When the man stimulates Oxytocin in woman, she becomes excited, and in turn excites the hormone Testosterone release in the man.

Dr. Uväs-Moberg outlines how to naturally increase Oxytocin levels in daily life by suggesting the following:
1. Touch is very important. Interactive touch with human beings is best, but it doesn’t have to be limited to human beings. Touch happens between people and their pets.

2. Getting a massage is helpful.

3. Walking, swimming in warm water, and all physical exercise is excellent.

4. Deep interaction, intimacy, and eye-contact are also important.

5. Sex releases Oxytocin.

A word of caution: Dr. Uväs-Moberg recommends solutions to increase Oxytocin levels naturally as our bodies produce it effortlessly and are equip to process it when activated. Several manufacturers have already developed Oxytocin drugs, yet “the absolute best thing to do is to activate your own Oxytocin” naturally.

Until Next time: à Donf

Tags: Relationships, Conflict, Interpersonal Relationship, Intimate Relationships, Relationship Dilemmas, Marriage, Divorce, Sex and Relationships, Dr. John Gray, Oxytocin