Conflict is part of all relationships, however many people want to avoid conflict as it can be a very painful experience for those involved. That said, all healthy relationships will have some conflict from time to time.
Couples will experience conflict ranging from minor irritations to significant and critical fights which can be about needs, wants, preferences, interests, opinions, beliefs and values. When these issues are not addressed it can lead to resentment, ongoing frustration and possible emotional disengagement from one or both partners.
The level of conflict within a relationship is not as important as how couples engage in disagreements. It is not a lack of conflict that predicts how healthy a relationship is but how the conflict is resolved.
These relationship ruptures are events that can weaken or strengthen your relationship, they can create deeper understanding, and bring closeness and respect, and can allow couples to discuss and resolve issues within the relationship. On the other hand they can be destructive, causing resentment, hostility and possibly the end of the relationship.
When familiar criticisms or accusations are exchanged frequently between a couple then it can provide information to both parties about what each person feels is missing or not working in the relationship.
Some things you can do to manage small issues to prevent conflict
Timing is everything – if you are trying to do other things then you may need to discuss the issue at a later time when you both can focus
- Try to let go of anger about smaller issues
- Stick to the issue at hand
When conflict does arise remember
- Deal with one issue at the same time
- Avoid the silent treatment
- Don’t ignore an issue your partner feels is important
- Fight fair – no name calling or belittling, swearing or verbal abuse as this can escalate the situation further and really damage your relationship in the long term
- Letting your partner know you are sorry for any distress caused to them by the argument
- Offering your partner comfort (like a hug) to move you closer together following the fight
Remind one another that no matter what happens you care about each other and that your relationship is more important than ‘winning’ the fight
No matter how important your partner is to you or how much you may love them conflict is bound to occur. When handled well differences in your relationship can help you and the relationship to grow.
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Until next time …