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2 Simple Ways to Resolve Conflict with Your Partner

Female couple sits on sofa, deep in intimate discussionFew things are more upsetting than getting into a heated argument with your partner. Many couples are baffled by disagreements that seemingly come out of left field, leaving them feeling blindsided and wounded. A seemingly innocent remark can set the stage for a major blowup that could last hours, days, weeks, or longer.

Feeling misunderstood, wrongly accused, or judged by your partner can be very painful. Couples who experience unresolved negative, repetitive, and intense conflicts often find themselves at a therapist’s office. They are looking for answers. They have exhausted all their resources. Why is it so difficult to get your point across without all the negativity?

Some couples tend to believe conflict is a sign their relationship is flawed, doomed, or hopeless. The truth of the matter is happy, satisfied couples argue just like unhappy, dissatisfied couples. The trick to a happier relationship during conflict has little to do with what you are arguing about, but rather how you conduct yourself. Even when upset or angry, happy couples tend to work hard to respect their partner, have a sense of humor, and listen to a different point of view during a disagreement.

These two simple points can make a difference in the way you handle conflict:

1. Recognize That a Conflict Is a Conversation

When an argument ensues, it is helpful to recognize that your conflict is simply a conversation that lacks agreement. It is nothing more than a dialogue. Try to think of the conflict with your partner as an opportunity to understand each other better. Start conversations on a positive note, remain calm, and stick to the facts.

Taking responsibility for your actions will go a long way in restoring the peace and helping your partner feel understood.

Being able to regulate your emotions and state your position objectively will help your partner feel more respected, validated, and willing to listen to your point of view. Taking responsibility for your actions will go a long way in restoring the peace and helping your partner feel understood.

Take turns being a speaker and listener without interrupting each other. Keep the dialogue free from criticism, blame, and defensiveness. Learn to compromise and agree on a different strategy to try in the future.

2. Stop Taking It Personally

Let’s face it: conflict in a close or intimate relationship is inevitable. Naturally, two individuals with two different life experiences will view the world in different ways. Although you may not see eye to eye, remember that one person’s perspective is just as valid as another’s. Each position has a certain element of truth in it.

A difference of opinion does not diminish who you are or invalidate your ideas. Don’t let an unkind remark during a heated argument damage your self-esteem. Try to listen to a complaint non-defensively and decide if there is an element of truth in it. If the complaint is valid, acknowledge it. Looking at issues in this way will promote personal growth.

Arguments and disagreements are a reality of life. All meaningful relationships have them. Realizing conflict is simply a conversation and not taking it personally are a couple ways you can resolve differences amicably.

© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Ellen Schrier, MS, LPC, NCC

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Tina

    September 15th, 2016 at 12:41 PM

    Eventually you will have to decide on what is more important to you- being “right” or being in a loving relationship where the two of you can talk and work things out.

    If the being right part is the thing that is the most important to you, then it is clear that you are not mature enough to continue in said relationship.

  • Melanie

    September 16th, 2016 at 1:45 PM

    Having a conflict with someone that you love can be a great time to engage them in a conversation that you have wanted to have for a long time but that you haven’t known quite how to approach. The best advice that I have is to not let this chance slip away. It might feel a little easier at the time to bury the discussion, believe me, this is something that is always going to come back, worse than before, making you wish that you had gone ahead and tried to work through it sooner.

  • marcy

    September 17th, 2016 at 9:05 AM

    My problem is that I don’t generally like conflict so it is usually my MO to bury what I am actually feeling and just say nothing at all. I understand that this causes more conflict internally for me, but I just don’t like that feeling of butting heads with someone. It feels like it is easier to just agree with them, make that compromise and then move on.

  • Raymond

    September 19th, 2016 at 8:26 AM

    I have always struggled with taking things a little too personally, feeling like everything is an attack even when it clearly isn’t. I don’t know what makes me do that but then I get really nasty when I do that, it just makes me go on attack mode and I even up making things worse than they were. I hope to one day get out of some of that, but I will admit that I struggle mightily with that at times.

  • Cara

    September 19th, 2016 at 10:31 AM

    Don’t you think that there are times when the biggest thing that you can do is resolve to resolve it? Not bury it, not try to forget about it, but really commit as a couple to face the things that you are going through head on and make sense of them together. I feel like when a couple has this kind of mindset that they are committed to working through the hard times that there will always be, no matter who you are. If you say that you are going to give one another a chance to speak and to get off their chests what they are feeling, then I think that you will probably have a much greater rate of success than those who just try not to make any waves at all.

  • matty

    September 20th, 2016 at 7:14 AM

    Haven’t I read somewhere that it is the couples who don’t argue that are actually in the most trouble?

  • Chapman

    September 20th, 2016 at 2:03 PM

    It almost at times feels like couples have this weird competition with each other, and that it becomes not about listening to the person they are working with but trying to always one up them. Why does being married or in any relationship have to be some sort of competition between the partners? I don’t think that this is what most of us envision when we think about having a good healthy relationship with another person. I know that it can always start out as fun but what happens when this is not how it ends up?

  • Greta

    September 21st, 2016 at 10:11 AM

    I have to admit that over the years I have started choosing a little more wisely which battles I am going to fight and which I won’t. Oh there was a time when I might put up a fuss about every single thing but then I thought, how is he ever going to really know the things that are the most important to me if I constantly choose to argue about anything and everything?
    So I stopped and started instead choosing what I wanted to stand up for and what I could live with. I think that life is a whole ,lot simpler now.

  • Malcolm

    September 22nd, 2016 at 11:00 AM

    Always talk it out and don’t go to bed angry
    that’s it

  • Polly

    September 24th, 2016 at 8:30 AM

    Malcolm- that simplicity says it all!

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