At some point in every relationship, there will be some sort of conflict. However, it is very crucial to learn how to resolve and find a resolution through the use of conflict resolution strategies because conflict is very common. If left unsettled, conflicts can cause stress and if not dealt with, the bond between people can be damaged (Overall & McNulty, 2017). It is ok to accept that at some point, you will disagree but you need to find a resolution to keep a relationship healthy, particularly if the relationship is a romantic one (Grieger, 2015).
In this blog, I will discuss further about conflict and resolution in couple relationships and look into strategies that can help in recovering from any harm done. What affects a healthy relationship critically in a conflict, is its resolution (Grieger, 2015). When a couple argues or disagrees, they need to make sure that with the resolution, there is no hurt or resentment lingering. Hurt and resentment can cause a loss of trust and can also damage the intimacy of the couple. The ideal is that the couple finds a resolution that is appropriate for both parties, where there is a win-win outcome and neither one feels defeated and therefore, hurt (Grieger, 2015).
Let us focus on four steps on how to resolve conflict in relationships and then I will share five strategies to have a healthy relationship.
Four steps to solve conflict:-
1. Eliminate any disturbances
When a couple disagrees, both parties need to listen patiently and openly to what is being said. Moreover, emotions such as; anger, hurt, and resentment need to be reduced so as not to get in the way of conflict resolution.
2. Commit to a win-win solution
Both parties should agree to find a solution that is equal for both. Hence, the couple should be open to change and remain motivated because one sided winning is unacceptable.
3. Adopt a purposeful listening approach
When you actively listen to each other, it is more likely to find a win-win solution. When actively listening to each other, judgment should be avoided.
4. Collaborative brainstorming
The couple should share needs, ideas and goals and work together (collaboratively) to find a solution that pleases both.
When conflict becomes unhealthy, the patterns and behaviours are repeated and one or both parties would feel lost or have resentment toward one another. Let us have a look at some strategies which can help a couple to consider what brought them together and remain happy together.
Five strategies that can help couples:-
1. Leaving and returning to one’s household
Before leaving home and when you return home, do you give your partner a kiss? Do you greet your partner when s/he arrives home and share a moment with him/her? This is considered to improve connections.
2. Understand what a loving relationship means to your partner
Conflict may not only be about misunderstandings, it can also be about failure to consider your partner’s needs. Ask your partner what s/he is looking for in a loving relationship, ideally when you are still getting to know one another but if you never thought about this and you have been together for quite some time, make a leap and ask your partner what s/he needs.
3. Do not sweep things under the carpet
Always aim to discuss any disagreements, and never try to avoid things because the matter is difficult as this might mean that you are not being sensitive and not paying attention to your partner.
4. Revisit the past
Ask yourself, what made you fall in love with your partner? How did you show your partner that you care in your early years? And how do you show your affection now? Reflect and consider how you can improve. These reflections can serve as an effective reminder.
5. Focus on communicating better
In a relationship dialogue remains crucial and can reduce conflict. It is important that we dialogue clearly and openly. Also, dialogue is two-way therefore, pay attention to what your partner is saying both verbally and nonverbally. Listen effectively and attend to what your partner is saying, avoid looking at your phone.
Grieger (2015) states that every couple goes through disagreements, it is how the couple handles the arguments that makes or breaks a relationship.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Rachel Osmond is a Family Therapist with Willingness who works with individuals, couples and families. She also has experience with children and adolescents.
Grieger, R. (2015). The couples therapy companion: A cognitive behavior workbook. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
Overall, N. C., & McNulty, J. K. (2017). What type of communication during conflict is beneficial for intimate relationships? Current Opinion in Psychology, 13, 1–5.
Sutton, J. (2022). Conflict Resolution in relationships and couples: 5 Strategies. Retrieved on March, 15, 2022 from https://positivepsychology.com/conflict-resolution-relationships