Managing Relationship Conflict – The Healthy Way
When two people’s lives, finances and families are intertwined, conflict and clashes are inevitable. But conflict within relationships isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, some conflict is healthy – provided it’s managed in a healthy way.
Addressing areas of conflict and working together towards solving them can increase intimacy, trust and the strength of your relationship. Utilise the below tips to help prevent, de-escalate and resolve conflict more easily.
This simple skill often falls to the wayside amidst a heated discussion. Everyone deserves to have their perspective acknowledged. Being ignored can leave someone feeling disrespected and devalued. So even if you think you know what your partner is going to say and you’ve been over the same argument a million times, hold your tongue and hear them out. Behind most arguments is some deeper hurt and deeper need that’s not being met. Sometimes showing your partner they have your full attention and you care what they have to say is enough to dissolve a lot of the tension.
Take a time-out
When emotions become too elevated, it’s very difficult to have reasoned conversations and see things from someone else’s perspective. It’s times like this that a time out may be the best option. If you feel like you need to take a break from the conversation to gather your thoughts, go for a walk and calm down, let your partner know that’s what you need. Let them know it will be more productive to continue the conversation once you’ve taken that time and allow them to take time when they need it too.
Dedicate time to deal with conflict
Scheduling time to have a chat and address any niggling issues is a great way to make sure issues are dealt with at a time when you’re both in a better headspace. If things get bottled up, they tend to explode at inconvenient times, like right before bed or when someone’s rushing out the door. Knowing you have a dedicated time for problem-solving and sharing your worries can help to prevent those sudden outbursts and emotionally charged arguments. This dedicated time can be while you go for a walk together, share a glass of wine, whenever you like!
Avoid saying “never” or “always”
When trying to address an issue with your partner, avoid generalisations like “you never help around the house”, or “you always ignore me.” First, chances are this is a generalisation. Most people don’t always or never do these things. Even if it feels close to the truth, generalisations about a person’s character or behaviour tend to make them defensive. It feels like an attack of their character, rather than a request to be more helpful or attentive.
It’s also more effective and respectful to ask for what you need in a specific and positive way. For example, “I’m feeling overwhelmed today and would love some help around the house” is much more likely to get the response you’re hoping for.
Effectively managing conflict takes skills and effort, but it can transform your relationship in several ways. Working together towards solving issues can increase intimacy, trust and the overall strength of your relationship. A professional couples counsellor can help you to learn these skills and work successfully to implement them in your home.