Do you still remember the usual ending of every fairytale we grew up watching?
The part where they lived happily ever after? Sure, it sounds beautiful, but it’s far from reality. Relationships, no matter how much you’re in love, will still have conflicts.
We can’t avoid them, but we can learn to deal with them.
If you are in a relationship now, you might want to learn about the different types of conflict in relationships. This way, you’d know how to properly handle it when the time comes that you are experiencing one.
Before we discuss the types of conflict in relationships, let’s try to understand what relationship conflicts actually are.
Relationship conflicts are disagreements, debates, arguments, and struggles between two people in a relationship over matters of shared interest.
A conflict in a relationship is normal.
There is no way the two of you would always agree on things and never fight. Conflicts in a relationship, when dealt with correctly, can even strengthen your marriage or relationship over time.
It’s not the relationship conflicts that can ruin a relationship – it’s how you deal with it.
So, before we get into the types of relationship conflicts and how to face them, it’s important to know what causes conflict in one relationship.
Is conflict resolution important for healthy relationships?
Conflict doesn’t always result in harm. In fact, challenges and disagreements within a relationship, be it romantic or otherwise, have the potential to foster personal growth, enhance understanding, promote better communication, and drive progress toward shared goals.
The outcome favors the first person, but not the second.
The outcome benefits the second person, but not the first.
The outcome is unfavorable for both individuals.
A resolution is reached that satisfies the needs of both parties.
Undeniably, the fourth option is the most desirable for establishing a sustainable and healthy partnership, as it prevents the potential decline of the relationship.
Overall, conflict resolution is vital for healthy relationships as it promotes understanding & effective communication, prevents resentment, and allows for mutual growth and satisfaction in the long run.
Causes of relationship conflicts
You and your partner are two very different people who happen to be in love with each other. As your relationship progresses, you start getting to know each other on a deeper level.
You discover each other’s pet peeves. You finally understand each other’s beliefs and so much more.
This is also where forms of conflict start to manifest, and here are some of the causes.
1. Unreasonable expectations
One of the biggest causes of a conflicted relationship is when a person’s expectations aren’t met.
This happens when a person starts to build upexpectations. While expectations are normal, sometimes, they become unreasonable. This will, of course, create conflict in their relationship.
A person starts to resent their partner for not being able to ‘get’ what they want or need, but they often forget one thing – no one is a mind reader.
All your friends have their partners with them at your reunion. You’ve been telling your partner about this for months now, and you expect him to be your date, but he bails out because he has a meeting.
You feel hurt and unloved. After all, you expect that he would leave his meeting and choose you over his work, right?
Now, you start seeing something conflicted about your relationship because your expectations weren’t met.
2. Being selfish
Sometimes, we are too focused on what we think is right and what we want, which causes us to forget that we’re in a relationship.
It means that when you’re in a relationship, you need to work as a team. From buying groceries to spending your money to making decisions, you and your partner should work together.
Unfortunately, this is very common. Someone in the relationship cannot think of what the other person would feel when making certain decisions.
Selfishness is the number one cause of conflicts in a relationship.
You think it’s best to move to the city where you can fulfill your dreams. However, you fail to recognize that your partner will have to leave her old parents on the farm.
If your partner starts to go against your plans, this can cause a conflict between you.
3. Lack of communication
In most articles, we see how communication plays a vital role in a relationship. Also, the lack of it can cause different types of conflict in relationships.
If you communicate in the wrong way by using condescending words, yelling, and being sarcastic – it can cause conflict and further damage the relationship.
As they say, it’s not what you want to say, but it’s how you say it that matters.
You and your partner don’t agree on whether to send your kids to a private or public school. However, instead of communicating, both of you start throwing condescending words at each other. You begin to yell and bring up past debates.
Instead of agreeing and understanding each one’s points, you end up fighting.
When your partner bursts out a joke that offends you, or if your partner accidentally decides on something and you feel neglected – these situations can cause relationship conflicts.
When you fail to communicate with each other and tell each other the things that might have hurt you, all of these negative emotions build up and become resentments.
Little by little, your heart is filled with pain and discontent, and you can burst out anytime.
Your partner finally got his first paycheck! You’re so thrilled because you wanted to go on a fancy date. You’ve been telling him about a nearby restaurant, and you felt that he understood what you meant by that.
However, he didn’t. He didn’t even buy you something. This situation can cause you to feel resentful towards your partner.
5. Finger pointing/Unhealthy criticism
When everything that’s happening is somehow your fault, then different types of conflicts can arise.
Who wants to stay in a relationship where your partner constantly criticizes you and your decisions? It’s like having someone to blame and avoiding taking responsibility.
Over time, this type of attitude can cause conflict in your relationship.
When choosing the best brand of an air-conditioning unit, you explain your side and suggest the brand you want. However, when the ac unit came, it had issues. This prompts your partner to lash out at you and your poor decision-making.
5 types of conflict in relationships
Now that you know the different causes of relationship conflicts, it’s time to know the 5 types of conflict in a relationship.
What are the different types of conflict that couples can face?
Having kids is one of the happiest moments in anyone’s life, but for some, this can also cause different kinds of conflict if you and your partner aren’t ready for the responsibility.
One of you may think it’s better to befinancially independent before having kids, while the other feels like it’s time to create a family. There can be many things to discuss here, which can lead to conflict.
Of all the conflict types, money is among the top and most common relationship conflicts.
There can be many types of conflict in relationships, but money is one of the most common issues. When two people decide to live with each other, they need to discuss their finances.
This is the time where you will discover how your partner handles their money. The reality is, not all couples have the same mindset about theirfinances.
Discovering that your partner has existing loans or is a big spender can already cause conflict. A typical scenario is when a hard-working spouse starts to build resentment toward the financially-irresponsible spouse.
At the beginning of a relationship, couples enjoy physical and sexual intimacy. However, as the relationship progresses, the desire to have sex can decline.
Hectic schedules, stress, household chores, poor self-esteem, and even kids can cause you and your partner to have different sexual drives.
If you want to be close to your partner and try your best to make love, but your partner gives you that irritated look and gives you an excuse for how busy and tired they are, wouldn’t this hurt your feelings?
What are the types of conflict in relationships that cause couples to call it quits finally? Uneven division of responsibility can be a prime reason behind conflict in romantic relationships.
When one of you does all the household chores while the other doesn’t care at all, this situation can cause one partner to breed resentment.
You both have work, yet you are the only one who cleans up and does all the household chores. To top that, your partner would recklessly leave all their dirty clothes and plates in the sink, expecting you to do everything.
Insecurity breeds jealousy. Among the types of conflict in relationships, this one is the most destructive.
If one partner feels insecure about the relationship and their partner, they tend to create issues that aren’t even there.
Insecurity can cause so much damage. For example, you might start thinking that your partner is being unfaithful. Then, you begin to imagine scenarios of infidelity. Before you know it, you are already breeding resentment and anger over baseless thoughts.
Any harmless call or hug from someone your partner knows can already trigger an outburst, and this doesn’t just cause conflict; it can also end your relationship.
Timing and environment matter when discussing sensitive issues. Find a calm and private setting where you can both focus on the conversation without distractions or time constraints.
Remember to set the pace right before you try to resolve a conflict.
6. Seek compromise
Strive for win-win solutions by finding a middle ground. Explore alternative options and be willing to make concessions. Compromise is essential for maintaining balance and harmony in relationships.
Remember that your partner’s win is your win too.
7. Take a break
Sometimes, conflicts become heated, and emotions can escalate. If tensions rise, it’s okay to take a short break to cool down and collect your thoughts. However, be sure to revisit the issue later to address it properly.
It’s essential to separate the problem from the individual. Avoid personal attacks or character judgments. Instead, direct your attention toward resolving the specific issue at hand.
Remember it’s you both vs the problem.
9. Practice forgiveness
Holding onto grudges only adds fuel to the fire. Learn to forgive your partner for their mistakes, as forgiveness allows both individuals to move forward and rebuild trust.
Remember forgiveness is a virtue to hold on to.
10. Try mediation or counseling
If conflicts persist or become overwhelming, consider seeking relationship counseling. A neutral mediator or couples’ therapist can provide guidance, teach effective communication techniques, and facilitate a healthy resolution.
Remember to adopt an approach that fits the bill.
Psychology Professor Dr. Jordan B. Peterson explains how fights in relationships can not only be healthy but absolutely essential for the relationship:
Some common questions
Dealing with conflicts is a major task for any couple who’s looking at a lifetime partnership. Let’s take up some more commonly asked questions about conflict resolution in relationships.
Do conflicts make a relationship stronger?
As we have already discussed in this article, conflicts, when resolved effectively, can strengthen a relationship by fostering growth, deepening understanding, improving communication, and building resilience and trust between partners.
How can relationship conflicts bring you closer to each other?
Relationship conflicts, when approached with open communication, empathy, and a willingness to understand each other’s perspectives, can lead to a deeper connection, increased trust, and a stronger bond between partners.
Believe that you can get past the problems
When you enter a relationship, you’re full of love and hope. Don’t be discouraged when you start having conflicts in your relationship.
We all experience different types of conflict in our relationships, and some of them can be so overwhelming that sometimes, you just want to give up.
If you get stuck in any such situation, remember that it’s not there to ruin your love for each other, but rather to strengthen your relationship.
It’s just how you address these relationship conflicts and how you deal with them that matters.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships Read more and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.
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