Jenelle, Kailyn and Leah have endured some painful confrontations with their current and erstwhile partners during this season of “Teen Mom 2” — including arrests for domestic violence, threatening to end marriages, clashing over custody and filing divorce papers. As viewers have witnessed all different types of arguments on the show, it’s imperative to take a step back and figure out what we can learn from these difficult and stressful televised scenarios.
Taking this important issue into account, MTV News spoke with Cameka Crawford from the organization loveisrespect to address the topic of conflict and how to have healthy resolution in relationships. First, Crawford states the importance of understanding what conflict means — and why not seeing eye-to-eye isn’t necessarily problematic.
The 8 Warning Signs Of An Abusive Relationship
“When we’re talking about conflict, we’re really talking about verbal disagreements and arguments in a relationship,” Crawford states. “Having arguments really gets a bad rep. People say you shouldn’t have a verbal disagreement or an argument, but disagreeing with your partner isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What’s important to remember is your relationship rights. You do have the right to have a different opinion from your partner. So having that conflict or verbal disagreement is not necessarily a bad thing — it’s in the way that it’s handled.”
With that in mind, here are five ways to resolve this type of instance in a healthy manner:
1. Set boundaries.
“Everyone deserves to be treated with respect — even if it’s in the middle of an argument or disagreement,” Crawford says. “So, for example, your partner is starting to call you names or maybe they’re cursing at you. You have the right to say, ‘Stop — I’m not comfortable with this.’ If you say ‘stop’ and your partner doesn’t stop calling you names and doesn’t stop cursing at you, then you can (and should) walk away. And you can say, ‘I don’t want to finish talking about this right now. Maybe we both need to cool off before we finish talking about this.’”
2. Get to the root of the issue.
“A lot of times, arguments between two partners happen when someone’s needs aren’t getting met,” Crawford says. “So get at the heart of why you’re having this conflict. An example: Maybe you’re having a disagreement with your partner about schedules. Your partner wants to be at the movies with friends and family, and you want to spend that time with your partner. So maybe it’s not necessarily that you have an issue with your partner spending time with friends and family; maybe the conflict isn’t even about the schedule. Maybe at the root of that is one of the partners feels like they’re not spending enough time with the other partner.”
3. Agree to disagree.
“You have the right to have a different opinion from your partner,” Crawford reiterates. “So if you and your partner can’t resolve the issue, sometimes the best course of option is just to agree to drop it and not talk about it anymore.”
4. Compromise when possible.
“Compromise isn’t always easy, but it’s really important that you work with your partner to find a middle ground where you’re both satisfied with the outcome,” Crawford stresses.
5. Consider everything.
“Ask this question: Is what you’re arguing or disagreeing about really important?” Crawford concludes. “Does it change the way you feel about your partner or your partner feels about you? Are you compromising your beliefs, morals or values? If you feel like in your disagreement or argument that you’re compromising your beliefs or morals, then it’s really time to sit down and have a conversation and talk about your position. Another part — and this is sometimes difficult to do — [ask yourself,] ’What does this look like from my partner’s point of view? Does my partner usually get this upset, or is this unusual for my partner to be this upset about this? Typically, when we’re disagreeing, does my partner usually compromise?’ And lastly, sometimes looking at yourself isn’t that easy — but [ask yourself,] ’Am I being unreasonable?’”
However, if you are in a relationship and can’t disagree with your partner without fear of retaliation — or if your partner is trying to control or manipulate you — that could be abuse. Here, Crawford gives some examples of this type of behavior:
1. You are just hanging out with friends — but your partner thinks you’re cheating.
2. You went to sporting event instead of spending time with them — and that resulted in the other person being upset.
3. They checked your phone and didn’t like the texts or calls you received.
4. They were on your social media accounts and didn’t like updates you posted.
5. You’re not ready to have sex and they’re pressuring you to do so.
If you are in any type of abusive situation, it’s imperative that you understand that you are not on your own and help is available.
“You’re not alone,” Crawford emphasizes. “You deserve a healthy relationship, and you deserve love that is based on respect. There is someone here for you through loveisrespect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
If you are experiencing abuse or have questions about relationships, you can contact the organization by visiting its website loveisrespect.org, texting loveis at 25222 (sponsored by Mary Kay), or calling 866-331-9474. For more information about conflict resolution, click here. And be sure to watch the season finale of “Teen Mom 2″ on Thursday at 10/9c.