So many people operate under the assumption that the happiest relationships are those in which there are never any conflicts, but the truth is that the most successful relationships are those that have figured out how to manage conflict! Issues and challenges will inevitably arise in all relationships, and many people panic when this happens simply because we haven’t received the proper education in our society when it comes to how to resolve conflict.
We grew up in a time where Disney movies and Hollywood romances taught us that once you get in a loving relationship with someone, you just live happily ever after. So what happens when a problem arises and you don’t know how to navigate it?
I wanted to write this article for you today on exactly that topic. A couple that knows how to resolve conflict in a relationship can build a solid foundation that will protect and reinforce their bond.
It’s going to require an effort from both people involved, but the more you incorporate the tips and tools I’m about to go over, the more natural it will feel. So let’s take a look at the best ways to resolve conflict in your relationship!
Conflict resolution: The importance of mastering it
So as I was saying, conflict is a perfectly normal part of any relationship, but the key to success lies in mastering it and knowing how to handle it.
Far too many couples fall apart because they bury their frustrations under the rug only to have them explode at the most minor inconvenience later on down the road.
They don’t disappear when you ignore them, they only amplify. I have been working as a love and relationship coach for many years now, and I cannot tell you how many people have come to me for help with figuring out how to resolve conflict in a relationship constructively because they were already on the brink of divorce or separation.
It’s always easier to fix issues in a relationship before separating than putting the pieces back together and trying to get someone to take you back. That is why I’m always so happy when a person comes to me for help with managing conflict in a relationship when they’re still together. It shows proactivity and anticipation, which are key elements in preserving relationships.
That way they can lay out the foundation for a stronger relationship that isn’t going to be threatened by the issues that it will inevitably face!
There is, of course, a bit of a learning curve, but that is only natural. It’s also going to be important to take the root of conflicts into consideration. Sometimes the problem is related to a specific thing that one or both partners are doing, but sometimes it stems from something that has nothing to do with the relationship.
Take my client Lisa for example. She came to me asking about how to resolve conflict in a relationship about six months ago or so. She was a very successful insurance agent living in New York City. She reached out to me after she realized that she and her husband were on the verge of separating.
He was overwhelmed with work, not where he wanted to be and he was blaming her for things that were not her fault. He was unhappy with his life and felt that the relationship had become too much of a burden and that he needed space to focus on “finding himself again”.
Obviously Lisa was devastated when she reached out to me because she felt that she was on the verge of losing her soulmate and her best friend.
She was absolutely sure that she had already lost him, and I had told her that she was not in the crisis that she thought she was in, but rather that this was an opportunity for their love to be strengthened and to grow through the challenges that they were facing. The key to surviving this would lie in practicing better conflict resolution skills.
Her husband did not hate her, as much as he hated where he was in life. She was way more successful then he was and he became insecure and threatened by her professional success. I simply had to work with Lisa to help her recalibrate her relationship and ensure that they start pulling in the same direction.
They had to become a team again and not adversaries, and so we focused on communication skills and rebuilding their common life project, and their relationship quickly soared as a result.
So you see, there are solutions available to you, so let’s take a look at what those are exactly.
How to resolve conflict in a relationship with the person you love most
Relationships are a two-way road, and you both are going to have to be open to resolving conflict between you. It’s not going to work if one of you clams up and the other is trying everything in their power to fix things. You really need to be able to meet each other halfway.
You’ll see that the following tips and tools that I’ll be going over with you are all rooted in empathy, which is a crucial element of healthy relationships.
How to resolve conflict in a relationship constructively: Outlining
The first piece of advice I have for you is to try to outline what your perspective around this conflict is. What is your stance and why is your opinion on the topic of what it is?
Does it have something to do with your values? Your past? Your upbringing? A sense of respect?
The more you are able to define your thoughts, the easier it will be to express them clearly without screaming or losing your cool. It will give you a stronger sense of organization and it will help you to have a calm and collected conversation with your significant other.
If you’re wondering about how to develop conflict resolution skills, think about the root of the issue and the reason behind your opinion. Then put yourself in your partner’s shoes…
Conflict resolution techniques: empathy
When you’re able to put yourself in your significant other’s shoes, you’re able to understand where they’re coming from, but also how to approach the situation in a way that would make it more likely that they’d be receptive.
So think about why your partner’s opinion is what it is? Empathy is one of the biggest tools when it comes to how to save a relationship, especially when it is riddled with disagreements.
Conflicts typically tend to arise because there is a lack of understanding, so make sure you both spend time with the situation.
Sure, sometimes it’s easier to just turn a blind eye to the problem and pretend like there isn’t anything wrong, but that’s not going to make things any better. If anything, it can make things worse because all the issues will accumulate and they’ll just be like a ticking time bomb, waiting for the next moment to go off.
Conflict and compromise: Communicating
There will always need to be a sense of compromise when you’re resolving conflicts. Sit down together and really discuss what is happening.
Make sure that your partner understands that you have taken their opinion into consideration, that you’ve thought about their side, and you’re aware of what’s important to them. It’s always important to validate your partner’s feelings.
A person who feels that their opinion is validated is going to be much more likely to be open to communicating and finding the right compromise.Couple communication exercises: The key to speaking each other’s language! Whereas if they are made to feel like their opinion is just 100% wrong, they’re going to be on the defensive and be much less likely to work with you to find solutions.
Relationship skills: Hit the pause button
One of the most constructive things you can do when things are starting to heat up and your partner are getting angrier is to learn to recognize when to hit the pause button.
When you’re in the heat of the moment, it’s too easy to get worked up and end up saying something that you regret. The result is simply that the conversation becomes even more frustrating and volatile.
So if things start to get too tense and you’re having trouble having a calm and collected conversation with each other, just say, “OK, I feel we might both need some time to cool off and think about this. Are you OK with stepping away from this for an hour and then talking again when were are in a clearer headspace?”
Resolving conflicts in your relationship is rooted in empathy and taking a step back
If you’ve been struggling with conflict resolution in your relationship with the person you love, the best thing you can do is to try to put each other in his or her shoes, and give yourselves a chance to cool off before discussing the issue at hand.
It’s something that requires a bit of practice but like I said at the beginning of this article, it will start to feel natural after a while.
Like I said, couples aren’t great because they lack conflict; great couples know how to MANAGE conflict. So I highly encourage you to think about why you feel the way you do about the situation or argument at hand, and think about why your partner has their opinion on it. Practice empathy and your relationship will thank you for it. It will help you to understand each other and find better solutions together.
If the conversation gets angry, don’t hesitate to hit the pause button and take a step back. It’s one of the absolute best ways to ease relationship conflict.
I’ve gone over some general tips and tools in this article, but I know that each and every single relationship is entirely unique so you probably have some questions. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or a member of my team for one on one guidance. Join the Happily Committed Project and learn how to transform your relationship in a meaningful and dignified way. If you’re feeling insecure in your relationship with the one you love, I encourage you to download our brand new product on battling insecurity. To access it, all you have to do is click here. As a team of dedicated love and relationship coaches, we are here to give you personalized advice based on your specific situation.
Conflict and tension are both very normal elements in relationships, no matter how long you’ve been together, no matter what your background is, and no matter what your personality type is. The key to success lies in mastering communication so that you can anticipate these disagreements, learning how your partner operates so that you can understand where they’re coming from, and working as a team to overcome these challenges. Remember, you are not adversaries; you’re on the same team working towards a happy future together.
I sincerely wish you all the best in life and love,
Your coach when you’re wondering about how to fix relationship conflict