Curiosity may have killed the cat but it will do wonders for your relationship. The next time your partner (or colleague, parent, or friend for that matter!) does something that triggers your anger, stop...breathe...and be curious.

Take these three steps away from conflict:

1. Defuse your defensiveness.

Think to yourself:

I wonder why they’re saying that?

I wonder why they’re behaving that way?

I wonder if they’re suffering?

I wonder what pain is under their anger?

2. Turn the flashlight to yourself.

Think to yourself:

I wonder why I’m feeling so agitated?

I wonder why I want to behave defensively?

I wonder if I’m suffering?

I wonder what pain is under my anger?

3. Then cultivate a sense of curiosity.

Think to yourself:

I wonder how we can get out of this mess?

I wonder if we can grow together through this?

I wonder if we’ll ever have perspective on this conflict?

I wonder what they’re teaching me?

I wonder what I’m learning?

Anger and conflict within a marriage can be difficult to deal with. If you train yourself to focus on these questions, instead of your level of anger, it will help you deal with what’s important -- resolving the conflict peacefully.

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Ashley Davis Bush, LICSW is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in couples therapy, grief counseling, and trauma recovery. She has written six self-help books including “75 Habits for a Happy Marriage.” Ashley felt a calling early on in her life to help people live richer, deeper, more fulfilled lives. Her work for the past 25 years –both as a therapist and as a writer – is designed to inspire others toward whole-hearted living. Read more about Ashley on her website.