Resolving conflict in marriage: New learnings

Over this past semester, as part of my studies in resolving couple-conflict, I studied a paper aimed at developing the “skills of facilitating conflict resolution using mediation” (University of Waikato, Counselling (2020), My interest was to acquire additional skills in coaching couples.

This was a post graduate paper taught at the University of Waikato.

Henk Ensing | Relationships Coach

In several ways this paper has shaped my relationships coaching practice for the future year. A narrative perspective on conflict resolution features strongly in the paper. I discovered that I am drawn to the narrative approach in both my coaching and personal relationships including my marriage relationship with Jenny. It seems to be a kind and respectful modality which is ideal for my coaching practice.

Two highlights

Two highlights from the University of Waikato paper are a result of the full-time block period on campus in Hamilton. The first highlight are the narrative interactions which shaped my ideas around how couples interact when conflict visits the relationship. These narrative interactions were modelled first-hand by the teaching faculty. The second highlight is the great benefit of peer-reviewed conflict coaching practicum. This entailed video-recording each of us using the narrative approach in mediation while receiving feedback from our peer students. The teaching staff also assessed our transcripts. Their comments added to the learning value of the paper.

We had a full stack of Readings about resolving conflict in relationships

In addition to these, a thorough immersion in readings ensured mastery of the theoretical underpinnings of addressing conflict in relationships using the narrative modality. These included resolving conflict from a Maaori perspective and restorative justice (Hakiaha, 1999),  the mediation meta-model (Alexander, 2011), intervention theory and method (Argyris, 1970), speech genres (Bakhtin, Emerson, Holquist, & McGee, 1985), a Maori perspective of mediation (Anderson), opening statements (CDR Associates, 1996), the narrative approach in employment mediation (Cotter, 2012), the essential role of dignity in resolving conflict (Hicks, 2011), a deconstructive approach in resolving conflict (Kecskemeti, Kaveney, Grey, & Drewery, 2013), practical strategies for resolving conflict (Moore, 2014), an overview of what narrative therapy is (Morgan, 2000), beginning the mediation (Pope, 2001), discursive empathy in narrative mediation (Sinclair & Monk, 2006), moving beyond the blame game toward a discursive approach to negotiating conflict within couple relations (Sinclair & Monk, 2004), Michael White’s maps of narrative practice (White, 2011), loosening the grip of conflict (Winslade & Monk, 2008), Leah Wing’s ideas around reconsidering inequality issues within mediation (Wing, 2009),  a narrative approach to mediation (Winslade & Monk, 2002), mediation with a focus on discursive positioning (Winslade J. , 2006), assisting in the renegotiation of discursive positions (Winslade J. , 2003), an example of narrative mediation (Winslade J. , 2010), and Vivien Burr’s ideas around social constructionism (Burr, 2008).


Alexander, N. (2011). The mediation meta-model: the realities of mediation practice. ADR Bulletin: The monthly newsletter on dispute resolution, pp. 126-131.

Anderson, W. (n.d.). Narrative Mediation: A Maori perspective. Course notes for HDCO.546: Mediation and Facilitation. Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand: Maori and Bilingual Department, University of Waikato.

Argyris, C. (1970). Intervention Theory and Method: A Behavioral Science View. MA: Addison-Wesley.

Bakhtin, M., Emerson, C., Holquist, M., & McGee, V. W. (1985). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. USA: University of Texas Press.

Burr, V. (2008). Social constructionism. New York, NY 10016, USA: Routledge, Taylor & Fransis Group.

CDR Associates. (1996). Mediation. In CDR Associates, The dispute system design manual. Boulder, CO: CDR Associates.

Cotter, A. (2012). A narrative approach to employment mediation. An E Journal of Narrative Practice (1).

Hakiaha, M. (1999). Resolving conflict from a Maaori perspective. (J. &. Considene, Ed.) Restorative justice: Contemporary themes and practice.

Hicks, D. (2011). Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict. York, PA, USA: Maple Press.

Kecskemeti, M., Kaveney, K., Grey, S., & Drewery, W. (2013). A deconstructive approach to class meetings: Managing conflict and building learning communities. Narrative and conflict: Explorations in theory and practice, 1.

Moore, C. W. (2014). The Mediation Process: Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict (ProQuest Ebook Central ed.). USA: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Morgan, A. (2000). What is narrative therapy. Adelaide, S.A. , Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.

Pope, S. (2001). Beginning the mediation: Party participation promotes empowerment and recognition. (J. Folger, & R. Bush, Eds.) New York, NY, USA: Institute for the study of conflict transformation.

Sinclair, L., & Monk, G. (2006, Aug 16). Discursive empathy: A new foundation for therapeutic practice. Retrieved from https://doi-org:

Sinclair, S., & Monk, G. (2004). Moving beyond the blame game:Toward a discursive approach to negotiating conflict within couple relations. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 3(30), 335-347.

 University of Waikato, Counselling (2020), Online Catalogue of Papers, University of Waikato website, Home > Calendar > Catalogue of Papers > Papers By Subject;

White, M. (2011). Maps of Narrative Practice. New York, NY, USA: WW Norton & Co.

Wing, L. (2009, 7 7). Mediation and inequality reconsidered: Bringing the discussion to the table. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 26. Retrieved from

Winslade, J. (2003). Narrative mediation: Assisting in the renegotiation of discursive positions. International journal of narrative therapy& community work, 4, 64-75.

Winslade, J. (2006, Summer). Mediation with a focus on discursive positioning. 23(4), 510-513.

Winslade, J. (2010). Narrative mediation: [DVD] A story of two sisters and one will. Alexandria, VA, USA.

Winslade, J., & Monk, G. (2008). Practicing narrative mediation: Loosening the grip of conflict. San Francisco, CA, USA: Jossey-Bass.

Winslade, J., & Monk, G. D. (2002). A narrative approach to mediation. (B. Cade, Ed.) The magazine for family therapy and systemic practice(63), 9-12.

Wittgenstein, L. (1998). Philosophical Investigations (4 ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.