Conflict Resolution for Couples
All relationships experience conflict. Even a good relationship has its share of ups and downs. What makes a healthy relationship is not a lack of conflict. How both partners manage and resolve conflict determines an open, honest, and successful relationship.
Causes of Conflict
There is no shortage of potential conflicts for relationships today given the external and internal stressors we all face. Fears, differences, and expectations also play a large role in relational troubles. Some partners fear rejection or a loss of independence. Conflict might arise as a result of the couple’s different personalities, values, or beliefs. Perhaps, one partner is expecting too much of the other. When a couple is unable to agree on what the problem is, it is unlikely they will agree on how to solve it. These are all common reasons for relational conflicts.
Tolls on a Relationship
Resolving issues in a relationship requires work, but the toll of unresolved conflict is even greater. These byproducts cause stress that flows into other areas of our lives, affecting us physically, emotionally, and financially. Couples may experience a decrease in intimacy, as well as feelings of resentment, relational insecurity, and financial instability. Communication might become difficult, as conversation about anything other than the conflict decreases. Individuals may also experience lower self-esteem as a result of unresolved conflict.
Dealing with Conflict
There are healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with conflict. When one partner makes all the decisions, the other might feel undervalued and resent this misuse of power. On the flip side, if both partners avoid conflict, the problem will linger and escalate. Partners will continue to play their roles to the best of their abilities, but the problem will never be resolved if it’s not addressed. These are both examples of unhealthy ways to deal with conflict.
The best strategy for approaching conflict is for both partners to share their thinking, knowing the relationship itself gets the final vote. Many times if a couple can focus on what’s best for the relationship as a whole, they are able to put aside their individual preferences and find compromise.
Conflict Resolution Process
Here are some practical guidelines to help you work through potentially difficult relationship conversations:
Learning to work through conflict in a relationship might not happen overnight. Be patient, as constructing a solution takes time and practice. However, the more you’re able to hear each other and control your emotional reactivity, the greater the energy you’ll have to work on the relationship and create a viable solution.