In a relationship between two people, each person brings a unique perspective and has their own wants and needs. Ideally, they work together to navigate their relationship, but because of their innate differences, some conflict or disagreements are oftentimes inevitable.
No matter how happy you are as a couple, most people, if not everyone, experiences conflict at some point. In fact, it’s a natural part of every relationship. And having disagreements, arguments, and fights doesn’t automatically mean your relationship is doomed.
The key to success lies in how you handle those conflicts. At Psychology Beverly Hills, our relationship therapists specialize in helping people learn how to resolve and move past conflict with their partner, rather than letting it undermine their relationship.
When a conflict arises, here are five strategies (among others) to help you get through it.
1. Create a welcoming environment
In healthy relationships, both partners feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings. They are open and honest, and they know they can continue being open even when conflict arises.
Creating an open environment often means prioritizing respect and suspending judgment, even when faced with conflict. Remember that your partner is entitled to their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Practice listening to them without passing judgment or interjecting your own thoughts while they speak.
When both of you prioritize trust and respect, you’re better able to navigate conflict when it occurs.
2. Pinpoint your own feelings
Conflict is stressful, and feeling a range of emotions is normal. Before you start discussing the conflict with your partner, take time to collect your thoughts and identify your own feelings about the situation. What emotions are you feeling? Why do you feel that way?
Be direct when you’re sharing your thoughts and feelings with your partner. Clearly state why you’re upset, and tell them how it makes you feel.
Avoid generalizing the situation or your partner’s behavior, and steer clear of using words like “always” or “never.” Use specific language, and remember to focus on how you’re feeling because of the situation without accusing or blaming your partner.
3. Listen to your partner’s feelings
There are two sides to every relationship conflict, and understanding your partner’s side is just as important as communicating your own. When you find yourself in a conflict, actively listen to your partner when they’re talking.
Make an effort to hear, understand, and retain what your partner says. Try not to get defensive. Ask questions if you’re confused, but avoid interrupting or correcting them, even if you think you’re right.
4. Strive for compromise
While listening to your partner, make an effort to understand their perspective. Ask them to do the same, and remember you’re both on the same team. Resolving the conflict requires finding a solution that makes you both feel heard, valued, and respected.
Discuss possible options, and strive to maintain an open, welcoming environment throughout the conversation. If you reach a compromise, do your part and hold up your end of the deal.
If you find the conflict isn’t reaching a resolution, it’s okay to take a break. Agree on a time to revisit the issue when you are both in a better state of mind. In some situations, couples can agree to disagree, allowing them to move on.
5. Seek help from a relationship expert
Direct communication, active listening, and compromise can help solve many relationship conflicts, but some issues feel too big to handle on your own. When you and your partner struggle to find common ground or the same issues keep coming up over and over again, relationship counseling can help.
Our team has experience working with individuals and couples from all walks of life. Through mentalization-based therapy (MBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and other evidence-based methods, we can help you and your partner build conflict resolution skills, communicate better, and improve the quality of your relationship.
Call our office at 424-331-1570 or request an appointment online to learn more.