New Dwell Video on Lessening Marital Conflict Through Friendship

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The Dwell Counseling Department is offering a new YouTube workshop called “Better Conflict through Better Friendship,” aimed at helping couples have both less conflict and to handle it more effectively when they do. It’s taught by Dwell counselor Nick Hetrick, who ­­says if couples work at improving their friendship—especially the amount and nature of their positive interactions—they can reduce conflict and lessen the strain it puts on their marriage.

Nick says it’s a critical issue these days, with the pandemic putting stress on marriages and the married population in Dwell growing rapidly. The premise of this video came from a marriage counseling class Nick took through the Gottman Institute that offered helpful insights on working with couples and a number of concrete, easy-to-apply strategies for strengthening marriages. One of the founders of the Gottman Institute is John Gottman, author of The Relationship Cure and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

Nick offers this quick tip from the teaching: “If you want to fight less and fight more productively when you do, make an effort to build a quality friendship before you focus directly on conflict resolution. You do better work and take feedback from your friends better when there's a generally positive rapport between you. In the same way, when you have a characteristically warm and appreciative relationship with your spouse, a lot of conflict won't come up in the first place—and the conflict that does come up will be much easier to handle.”

While the video is aimed at married couples, Nick says the material is also useful for anyone wanting to encourage and help married friends. And Nick says it’s good for anyone who wants to grow in his or her ability to build positive rapport with friends and to navigate conflict more successfully. “Specifically, I encourage people who are prone to overlook the impact of everyday interactions, like simple expressions of gratitude, and people who struggle to listen well, to watch the workshop.”