Relationships can be so rewarding, but they can also feel so challenging. Of course you love your partner, but you find yourselves arguing over the smallest of issues. At times, you may even have intense blowouts that leave you wondering about the overall health of your relationship.
Conflict is inevitable, and it occurs between every couple. But it doesn’t need to be this dreadful, scary crisis.
With the right mindset, arguments can even be healing. Learning how to navigate relationship conflict productively can bring the two of you closer.
Try To Discuss And Resolve Things As They Arise
If you want to master your ability to navigate relationship conflict, timing is paramount. Have you ever resented your partner, but you held your feelings deep inside? What happened? Chances are, your anger festered. Every time they triggered resentment, it grew more and more.
Once you reached your tipping point, you probably exploded. Your blindsided partner likely reacted with defensiveness- which only fueled more resentment. How effective was this plan?
Instead of remaining in this toxic pattern, aim to discuss issues when they occur. At first, this mindset can be challenging. You will need to pay close attention to your needs and feelings.
But open and healthy communication is the key to any healthy relationship. The more you two prioritize this need, the better you will become at resolving conflict.
Imagine Being In Your Partner’s Shoes
Empathy is a powerful tool in relationships. It allows you to understand how your partner is feeling. No matter how angry or hurt you feel, take a moment to reflect on your partner’s experience. Are they caught off guard? Feeling neglected?
Being curious about your partner’s feelings and needs can remind you that you’re in this together. It’s not a matter of being right-or-wrong. Rather, it’s a matter of finding common ground where you both feel valued.
Take Time-Outs If Needed
It can be tempting to throw all the cards on the table during an intense argument. You want to be right! You want them to see how much they’ve hurt you! You want them graveling at your feet!
That said, you won’t reach any productive conclusions if you’re both hot and angry. Instead, you risk hurting each other more. You also risk stretching out an argument for much longer than necessary.
Instead, get in the habit of taking cool-down breaks. During this period, take several deep breaths. Remind yourself of what you love about your partner. Think about your feelings and how you can articulate your needs more objectively.
Remember that it’s not the conflicts themselves that are problematic. It’s the screaming, threatening, and stonewalling that can make them so destructive. However, taking a time-out isn't a free pass to stop talking. If you need a moment to collect yourself, that's fine, but once you do it's time to finish the discussion.
Remember Your Partner Isn’t The Enemy
Couples often find themselves pointing fingers at one another trying to prove who’s right. Even if you can identify a winner, does that really make you two closer? Probably not.
It takes two people to make a dynamic. You and your partner are playing on the same team working towards the same goals. Keep reminding yourself of that often. It allows you to externalize your conflicts and look at it together.
Instead, keep reminding yourself that you and your partner are on the same team. Approach the argument as an opportunity to problem solve together. Doing so will help you both remain more objective and level-headed.
Apologize Genuinely And Without Excuses
You are inevitably going to hurt your partner at some point during your relationship. Even if it is unintentional, it’s so important to acknowledge and apologize for your actions. It demonstrates that you care about your partner and their well-being.
But it’s not enough to just sheepishly apologize and try to move on. This defeats the point entirely. Instead, you should try to customize an apology that you know meets their needs.
If, for example, they value physical affection, this might mean pairing an apology with a big hug. If they value affirmations, you could apologize and let them know how much you appreciate them in your life.
Consider Couples Therapy To Navigate Relationship Conflict
Many people benefit from having professional guidance to help strengthen their relationship. Couples therapy offers a supportive environment for you and your partner. You and your partner will receive practical guidance on how to support each other and navigate relationship conflict.
At Elevate Counseling, we understand that relationships can be tricky. We work with couples to increase healthy communication and restore love and connection. Contact us today to schedule a session with one of our couples experts today.