QUESTIONS and ANSWERS - CONFLICT RESOLUTION
This is something we spent a fair bit of time discussing before we moved in. We knew that conflicts and irritations would likely arise. They happen in families. There’s no reason to think that we will be immune.
We all agreed that being direct (but kind!) would be the key. So, for example, we agreed that if you are driven crazy by the newspaper being spread out all over the living room, there are a couple of ways you might handle it. First, think about the idea “if it bugs me enough to nag someone else to do something, maybe I should just do it myself”. Or, say something like “I know that I’m being a bit of a neat freak, and that’s really MY problem, but I’m bugged by things like newspapers lying about. Is that something we can all think about, or if not, do you mind if I pick up?” The key, we think, is acknowledging that we do have control over what we allow to “bug” us, but at the same time, ask kindly for a bit of help.
We can now report that (at least for now), that's working out quite well. Moving has been stressful. It's possible that it is one of the most stressful things we will have to navigate in the early years. And yet, we've worked through that with no real conflict. There have been small things (analogous to the newspaper example) that have come up, but in every case all we've had no difficulty reaching agreement.
We use a memo pad to collect things to discuss at our semi-regular house meetings. These include questions of "how do you want to handle X or Y", potential conflicts, and at this point, a lot of things on our joint "to do" list as we settle in. We've had a couple of meetings already. We meet after dinner, possible with a glass of wine, and work through the list. One of us keeps notes so that we don't forget what we volunteered to look after. It's working. We will likely meet "formally" less frequently as time goes on, but for now it's a useful way of keeping track of what needs to be done.
If serious conflicts arise, the legal agreement contains language to handle dispute resolution – including mediation if necessary.