There is conflict in every relationship, but what matters is how you handle those conflicts in a relationship. The way you deal with an issue with your partner can determine if your relationship is healthy or unhealthy.
Conflicts in a relationship happen for many reasons, from minor everyday disagreements like who does the dishes, to serious issues like infidelity. Some common relationship disagreements include loss of attraction and passion for your spouse, emotional stonewalling and loss of commitment, as well as finances, family responsibilities and insecurity.
Stress in other areas of our lives also impacts our relationships. You return home from work frustrated and exhausted or you’re dealing with conflict with other friends or family members, that stress can be contagious. You must learn how to resolve conflict in all areas of your life to help your relationship.
Conflict in a relationship can rapidly become very unpleasant, and also very personal. It can feel overwhelming and frustrating when you feel like your partner isn’t listening to you. Many couples make the mistake of trying to talk over each other instead of talking to each other during relationship conflict.
Conflicts in a relationship are normal, but your arguments shouldn’t turn into personal attacks or efforts to lower the other’s self-esteem. If you can’t express yourself without fear of retaliation, you may be experiencing abuse. How you handle a disagreement says a lot about how you feel towards your partner.
6 Tips On How To Handle Conflicts In A Relationship
Here are some tips to keep in mind that will help you handle relationship conflicts healthily.
1. Create An Environment For Open Communication
Communication is essential to resolve conflicts in a relationship. In a healthy relationship, you and your partner can communicate openly about what is bothering you in the relationship, what is going well, and what is going wrong. It is important to not only talk about the problems in the relationship but also the positives so no one feels like they are doing everything wrong.
If you feel like you can’t talk openly about important things that matter to you, like life issues, money, your aspirations, and anything big picture, then that is a sign that your relationship may be unhealthy. If you can’t express your feelings without fear of retaliation from your partner or them getting overly upset and defensive, then you are likely to be in an abusive relationship.
2. Focus On Your Relationship Goal
Tony Robbins once said, ‘Focus determines direction. If you’re focused on building a beautiful, passionate relationship, that’s what you’ll achieve.’
When you’re focused on defending yourself from attack rather than on solving the problem, disagreement is bound to occur and can become very harmful. If you focus on your pain and suffering, then you are likely to experience even more pain and suffering. But if you focus on building a healthy, understanding, loving and beautiful relationship and make achieving that your goal, you will lessen disagreement and its effect on your relationship life.
Where focus goes, energy flows. Whatever we consistently focus on is exactly what we will experience in our lives. If you focus on where you don’t want your relationship to end up, fighting and letting anger build, you’ll find yourself where you don’t want to be, either in a painful, unfulfilling relationship or separated from your partner altogether. If you focus on resolving conflict and growing together, you’ll get the outcomes that you do want.
3. Learn To Forgive Your Spouse
If you are wondering how to handle conflicts in a relationship and make them less harmful, or probably save your relationship because your trust was broken and you are feeling angry, bitter, hurt, mistrustful and other negative emotions then you need to work on forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a process. It’s a series of hard work and small acts of admitting mistakes, practising honesty and putting your partner’s needs first that add up over time. Forgiveness takes work.
Sometimes, you might be the one that broke the trust, in this case, you must take full responsibility. Be respectful of how you hurt your partner, give them the space they need and try not to fall into a cycle of self-blame. If it is you whose trust was broken, take some space as well, but communicate out. Let your partner know what you need to rebuild trust and most of all, never give up.
4. Listen Carefully
Listening is another good means to handle conflicts in a relationship, it goes hand in hand with communication. People often think they’re listening, but the truth is they are just thinking about what they’re going to say next when the other person stops talking.
Be prepared to listen to your partner. Don’t just repeatedly explain your point of view or you will end up fighting again. Building a compromise or a collaborative solution requires a real understanding of what is important to you and your partner, and why it is important.
Effective communication goes both ways. While it might be difficult, try to listen to what your partner is saying. Don’t interrupt or get defensive. Just hear them and reflect on what they’re saying so they know you’ve heard. Through this exercise, you’ll understand them better and they’ll be more willing to listen to you.
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5. Be Prepared To Apologise
Apologising doesn’t mean you have to accept that you were wrong. You may feel that you were in the right, or you may even have been in the right. Being prepared to apologise for the way that your partner feels, however, will go a long way towards ensuring that they feel they have been heard, and that you understand their concerns. This is especially true if, despite your best intentions, you ended up shouting at each other.
Saying that you are sorry means accepting there was a disagreement, and you are sorry that your partner is upset and that you are committed to finding a way forward that works for you both. Learning to apologize even when it isn’t your fault can go a long way to reducing conflicts in a relationship.
6. Turn Conflict Into Opportunity
Conflicts are opportunities for you and your partner to align on values and outcomes. They are chances to understand, appreciate and embrace differences. Sometimes, try to put yourself in your partner’s place and make an effort to understand their experience. These experiences and emotions can be uncomfortable, but if we always settle for comfort then we never grow.
Conflict is also an opportunity to learn more about your partner and love them even deeper. Learn to see conflicts as transitions to something better, rather than as reasons to retreat. The next time you find yourself disagreeing with your partner and wondering how to save your relationship, choose to see the positivities in the situation and actively decide to work toward a more stable future together.
When you learn to turn conflict into opportunity, you are bound to grow successfully in your relationship and limit the effect of conflicts in a relationship.
No matter how compatible or how deeply in love you and your spouse are in your relationship, you are bound to bump heads at some point. You don’t have to view conflict as a red flag or an opportunity to quit your relationship. Any two individuals coexisting together will have disagreements. Conflict can be an essential component of creating an even stronger bond.
If you keep these tips in mind during your next argument, you’ll be sure to handle your future conflicts healthily and constructively. Constant arguing, overly-heated battles, and fights that spiral out of control are all signs of an unhealthy relationship.
A long-term relationship is a partnership. You may or may not have made a formal commitment to each other but, if you want the relationship to last, you need to work together to develop the skills to manage differences of opinion. Learning how to disagree constructively, and build a compromise or collaboration, is an important part of this. Learn how to handle relationship conflict and keep it from causing lasting damage to your relationship.
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