All relationships have conflict. We can’t be on the same page with our partners 24/7 and that’s okay.
Conflict resolution in relationships is something everyone can work on. The more work you do, the healthier your relationship will be.
What is Conflict Resolution?
Conflict is uncomfortable. That’s why many people try to avoid it.
Conflict resolution is the active process of trying to solve relationship problems with empathy and compromise.
Conflict resolution skills will improve your relationship with not just your partner but most of your relationships. While it takes some practice, anyone can do it.
Conflict Resolution Skills for Healthy Relationships
It’s important to understand that conflict in a relationship is healthy—it’s okay to disagree on some things. In fact, the ways you deal with conflict can help build intimacy in a relationship. If you’re looking to work on healthy conflict resolution skills in your relationship, focus on these:
Listen to your partner when they have a problem. Try not to interrupt. Ask them what is bothering them and what they would consider a suitable solution for the problem to be.
Try rephrasing what they’ve said in your own words and say it back to them. Ask them if your interpretation reflects how they feel. If they say it doesn’t, try again.
Ask questions with genuine curiosity to understand their feelings. Avoid trying to find logical flaws in what they’re saying or using their words against them.
Practice Direct Communication
If something is bothering you in your relationship, speak up. Don’t bottle things up. It could be something as little as doing the dishes or taking out the trash. Tension can build if you don’t address it. Down the line, you may blow up at your partner for something trivial because you didn’t express your frustrations earlier. The underlying frustration here is that you are not feeling appreciated, or you feel your partner is not pulling their weight.
It’s important to communicate the behavior you would like to see corrected calmly and supportively and give them the space to do it.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Most conflict in relationships comes from a lack of communication. Don’t assume your partner knows what you are thinking or feeling and don’t assume the same for them.
Set Aside a Time to Talk
Find a time that works for both of you to sit down and talk about any issues you may have. Don’t unleash on your partner in the heat of the moment or when they are stressed or busy. If something is bothering you, don’t come at your partner when you are emotionally charged. Allow yourself some space to calm down and agree on a time when you both can talk about it.
Don’t Take Things Personally
This one can be a bit tricky. No one likes criticism, especially from their partner. Try not to take things to heart and remember the love you both share together. This is where having healthy boundaries is important and communicating those boundaries to one another can really strengthen the relationship.
Adopt a “Both of You vs. the Problem” Attitude
This is arguably the most important skill. When faced with a conflict, try to take a step back and think about what the best solution would be to the problem. Brainstorm with your partner how you can both overcome the hurdle that respects both of your boundaries and feels balanced.
Being able to compromise is essential to making a relationship work. If it’s chores in the house, maybe you devise a schedule or assign them. If it’s regarding morning routines before work, maybe you take turns in who gets to use the shower first. Focusing your energy on finding a solution also alleviates the pent-up emotions around the problem. Developing a “both of you vs. the problem” attitude can help your relationship approach difficulties more easily in the future.
When it comes to conflict, it’s important not to shy away from speaking your concerns. The right partner will not shut you down for expressing your grievances and they will offer a safe space for you to communicate. In return, be mindful of creating a safe space for your partner to open up about the things that are bothering them as well. Remember, conflict is inevitable, and it can be a useful tool in building more intimacy in a relationship. Conflict exists because you both care. Don’t lose sight of that.