If there’s one guarantee in any relationship, it’s that sooner or later you would have conflict in relationships where you and your partner are going to hurt each other.
Perhaps these relationship conflicts will not happen too often, and of course, that’s to be hoped. But inevitably both of you are going to say something insensitive, ignore a request, or in some way create distress.
Conflict in relationships is a result of disagreements in relationships usually caused by negative interactions, emotional unrest, and a difference in opinion or personality.
Putting aside the heartache it can cause there are many important reasons that show us why is conflict important or why is conflict good for a relationship.
Conflict in relationships can bring out the worst in us, but it can also reflect on who we are deep down as an individual. Conflict in relationships can give you an insight into how well you know your partner.
Moreover, conflict in relationships also presents us with an opportunity to know how good we can be at handling conflict in relationships.
So, even though no one enjoys being in a conflict, the value of conflict in a relationship, and the importance of conflict in a relationship should not be undermined.
Here are a few reasons why conflict in relationships are actually very significant.
1. So what do you do when that happens?
Sulk, strike back, become passive-aggressive? And if it’s any of these, do you find it moves the conversation forward, creating a space to work through the issue – or does your reaction merely serve to deepen, or gloss over, the injury?
Don’t lock away yourself in a shell. Healthy conflict is one where you both get an opportunity to vent your emotional baggage.
If you stop expressing yourself, it would the anger would only foster within and in time fester into resentment and make it that much more difficult to move past the conflict.
2. Did your partner mean to hurt you?
The first thing to consider is whether your partner actually meant to hurt you. There’s a big difference between an unintentional slight and a deliberate attempt to get under your skin.
Before striking back, take a moment to sort out what was behind the attack or omission. In healthy relationships, premeditated attacks are rare.
It is essential to determine how to deal with conflict in a relationship. You need to make sure that you do not use the conflict as an excuse to batter your partner in an attempt to get even for their past transgressions.
3. It is an opportunity to improve your relationship
Even if no harm was intended, however, it doesn’t mean that damage hasn’t been done.
But here’s the good news: these slights, injuries, disappointments, and missteps are not only opportunities for personal growth, but when handled with sensitivity, can improve the strength of your relationship and deepen the understanding between you and your partner.
By way of contrast, imagine a couple who spend their lives avoiding each other’s triggers, raw spots, or old wounds.
How inactive and lifeless would such a relationship be, with only a thin veneer of pleasantness to maintain it, and with a mountain of unresolved issues underneath?
Not only should you asses the reasons for conflict with your partner but also with yourself. Reflect on your emotions and see what the cause of that conflict is and how can you resolve them.
4. Strong relationships can tackle differences
So if you never fought, never rubbed each other the wrong way, you’d be spending your lives tiptoeing around so as not to risk triggering each other.
Not only would that be a recipe for a dead in the water relationship, but it would also provide zero opportunities to learn anything about your partner’s raw spots so that you could deal with them in an open and sympathetic way.
And by exposing those raw spots, you each individually have an opportunity to better understand and process them on your own.
After establishing why are conflicts necessary for healthy relationships, let us see how you can handle conflict in relationships in a constructive way.
How to handle conflict in a relationship
For a conflict to have a positive impact on your relationship, you need to know how to deal with disagreements in a relationship.
1. Be honest and direct
Be it a new relationship or an old one; couples find it difficult to be direct about their emotions and expectations from their partner.
They tend to choose indirect expressions, gestures, and even develop habits to covey that they are unhappy and want their partner’s attention.
The reason for such behavior can be attributed to many different reasons which differ from one couple to another.
One partner might be scared of expressing their emotions and feelings as they fear that they might get dominated if the matter escalates into an argument.
They might be testing their partners to see how well they know them.
They might try to deflect the issue by switching topics cause they realize their mistake but are too adamant to accept it.
As foolish as these reasons might be, such indirect ways of handling a conflict only inhibits your ability to resolve the conflict. So it is necessary that no matter what the conflict, you do not stary away from the issues at hand.
Also watch: What Is a Relationship Conflict?
2. Active listening
The concept of active listening has, in many ways, become a clique. It is one of those qualities or traits that are required and is essential in almost every aspect of a person’s life.
However, no matter how casually this term gets thrown around, you must realize that it is and always will be very significant when trying to resolve a conflict in relationships.
One way to void interrupting each other and prevent misunderstanding is to use a timer and assign 5 minutes to each partner to say their peace.
During those five minutes, they would not be interrupted, and the other person would listen and also take notes.
Once the 5 minutes are over, the next person would ask fact-finding questions and clarify what they have understood from the conversation so far.
This helps in avoiding any miscommunications that otherwise might have occurred. Now the other partner gets the opportunity to speak for the next 5 minutes.
This process is repeating until the couple comes to an agreement.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Marcie Scranton is an LMFT who specializes in relationship conflicts, major life transitions, depression, anxiety, and issues arising from recovery. In addition, she is trained in Trauma-Focused CBT, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Her approach is results-oriented and incorporates modalities based on Attachment, Existentialist Theory, Object Relations, and Family Systems.