Too often, we’re conditioned to see disagreements as a red flag. In reality, conflicts are normal and inevitable in every kind of relationship. If you are one of those couples who claim to “never fight,” at least one of you is probably suppressing some emotions. Fights don’t have to mean disaster. What matters most is how you handle these difficult moments.
Relationships, contrary to pop culture and social media, require steady work. Part of that work is accepting and navigating the existence of different perspectives. Conflict resolution is one of the most important skills you will ever learn—but you must never stop learning. Your relationship is a perpetual work in progress.
7 Healthy Ways to Navigate Conflict in Your Relationship
1. Commit to Healthy Communication
The foundation that supports your relationships is made up of many powerful elements. One of them is healthy communication. When you’ve done the work to prioritize and welcome communication, conflict does not appear so daunting. Stay in the mindset of willingness to discuss any and all topics with openness and respect. Speaking of respect…
2. Regulate Your Emotions
It’s tempting to fly off the handle when challenged. This is rarely a good idea, and it’s never a good idea with your partner. Focus on the topic at hand without getting personal or loud. Insults are not acceptable under any circumstances. If respect is not happening, you have every right to set a boundary and disengage from the conversation.
3. Dig Deep
Many couples talk about having the same fight over and over. Quite often, this means that you’re not getting to the root of the problem. Arguments about taking out the garbage are usually about much more than that. Needs and wants aren’t being met. Lean on those communication skills mentioned above to dig deeper. Couples therapy can be essential for this kind of work.
4. Don’t Turn it Into a Competition
You’re having a disagreement with your beloved partner. This is not about “winning.” The goal is to resolve an issue in a healthy and fair manner. This automatically means some compromise is required. Agreeing to disagree is not automatically a cop-out or “defeat.” Choose your battle wisely, and while you’re at it, don’t even call them “battles.”
5. Stay Curious
When someone you love and respect disagrees with you, it is an excellent opportunity to learn. An argument offers you a chance to become a better listener. You can learn about them and learn about the subject at hand. Ask questions. Be curious. Stay open to changing your mind.
6. Watch Your Language
“You” statements are typically heard as accusations. Words like “never” and “always” suavely leave no room for compromise. If emotions are getting the better of you and you can’t avoid aggression, take a break and reconvene at a calmer time.
7. Perfection is Not the Goal
You and your partner love each. You’ve committed to a relationship. But guess what? That will not guarantee an agreement. No two people are aligned on everything, and yes, you will annoy each other at times. Trade perfectionism for acceptance. Instead of focusing on the few negatives, be grateful for the innumerable ways you two are compatible and happy.
No One Expects You to Have All the Answers
Relationships are hard work. There will be times when you need an outside perspective. A couples therapist is the kind of skilled, unbiased guide who can help you on this journey. Committing together to therapy sessions is a powerful statement of your deep bond. It won’t always be easy, but learning new skills is such an important part of life. Let’s connect soon for a free and confidential consultation.