There are three different ways of dealing with conflict:
1. Yelling, fighting, defensiveness, etc...
2. Silent treatment, cold shoulder, etc..
3. Talking it out
Which do you think is the most harmful to a relationship? Suprisingly, it is number two, the silent treatment. This is because you have essentially cut off any means of communicating and fixing the problem. If you thought the best way of dealing with conflict is number three, talking it out, you are right. But there are ways to talk that are better than others.
The first step is to calm down before you start talking. You may need to go somewhere private, or you may need to make an appointment to talk about it later. But you won't resolve anything until your rational brain can think about what the real problem is.
The second step is to listen. Listen to your spouse's complaint without interrupting and repeat it back so they know you understand their problem correctly. Then it is your turn to talk. They should listen and repeat it back to you until they understand it right. This is called active listening.
The last step is to problem solve together until both parties are happy. This may take some negotiation or compromise where each partner wins something and maybe loses something they are willing to give up.
These are the steps you should be modeling and teaching your children:
1. Calm down
2. Active listening
3. Problem Solving in a calm way. (If you can't be calm during this step then start over at number one).
Here is another good article on dealing with conflict: Solving Disagreements without Arguing
I will also write another post later on how to apply this method to sibling rivalry.