How To Handle Conflict In A Relationship

How to handle conflict in relationships.

I used to avoid handling conflict at all costs. Whenever there was any sort of conflict or disagreement, I would pretend it never happened, so I wouldn’t have to confront and deal with unraveling all the emotions and feelings that came with it. It didn’t help that I was in a toxic relationship at the time, and was repeatedly put down for expressing how I felt. This caused me to suppress my true emotions, and avoid it altogether. But what I didn’t realize at the time, was that by avoiding the conflict, it was making the situation worse than it already was.

Conflict is bound to happen at one point or another in a relationship. Especially when you have two people with two different perspectives, mindsets, and desires. But what’s most important when it comes to handling conflict is learning how to communicate effectively. Sometimes it’s not always about the conflict or what started the disagreement, but how it’s handled. A strong relationship encourages open and honest communication during conflict, until both of you can come to a mutual agreement and understanding.

If you find yourself struggling to deal with conflict in your relationships, here are some tips on how to handle conflict in a relationship: 

Get To The Root Of The Problem 

Getting to the root of the problem is applicable in pretty much any heavy situation we’re dealing with, especially when it comes to conflict in a relationship. While some disagreements and conflicts are simply misunderstandings caused by conflicting viewpoints, sometimes there are deeper-rooted issues that need to be addressed.

When I was in a toxic relationship, our fights almost always escalated beyond the original issue. There were many deeper level issues that turned into personal attacks. Some disagreements and conflicts are normal in a relationship, but if you feel like you’re unable to voice your true opinion or express how you feel without retaliation, there might be a bigger problem altogether

Resolving conflict is about learning how both of you can move forward, so the issue doesn’t happen again or escalate into something bigger in the future. I feared getting to the root of the problem in that relationship, because I knew problems were buried so far deep that I didn’t want to confront any of them or bring it to the surface.

If the same conflict continues to repeat itself (as all patterns do), evaluate if there’s a larger problem at hand than you realize. Even if you can’t agree with somebody on something, it should never change the nature of your relationship or leave you questioning your self-worth. Getting to the root of the problem beyond conflict will either help you resolve the deep-rooted issue, or save you from a relationship that you aren’t supposed to be in anymore.

Make Sure You’re Both Ready To Be Receptive 

Have you ever tried to talk to somebody after a major conflict, before either one of you were ready to talk? Usually when this happens, one or both of you become defensive, because you’re trying to argue your point rather than being receptive and open to what the other person is saying.

When a conversation gets heated, it’s best to let it cool off for a bit until the both of you are ready to come together and discuss it. My mom always said: “There’s a time and a place.” If you or the other person hasn’t had time to process your feelings and work through them, then it’s likely it could turn back into an argument again or escalate into more problems than the one you started with. Make sure that both of you are open to listening to each other, rather than being on the defensive side. 

Drop The Hurtful Comments

We often say things we don’t mean when we’re upset because in those moments we get caught up and aren’t thinking clearly. But when we make hurtful comments out of frustration or anger, we can never take those words back.

We’ve all heard of the saying: “Think before you speak.” It’s especially true when it comes to handling conflict and disagreements. Drop the hurtful comments, and focus on what you can say that will be productive to the conversation. Sometimes it’s hard to learn how to set aside our emotions when we’re in the middle of conflict or a disagreement, but it’s important to deal with the actual issue without putting the other person down.

Allow each other time and space to share your feelings and truth without interruption, a space where both of you can authentically communicate how you feel without attacking the other person.

Stop Projecting The Blame

Rather than projecting the blame on your partner for their shortcomings, place yourself in their shoes to understand how they’re feeling. Sometimes conflict arises because it’s simply a misunderstanding, or because one of your needs aren’t being met.

For example, maybe you’ve been upset because it seems like your partner isn’t prioritizing spending time with you, which leads to built up hurt and frustration. Then conflict arises when it finally comes out because instead of confronting the problem when you should’ve, you assumed they knew what they were doing the whole time.

In this instance, rather than projecting blame on your partner: “You never spend time with me anymore.” Try saying: “I feel upset because it seems like we haven’t had much time together lately.” Your partner might not always realize what they’re doing when they’re doing it, and sometimes the very thing that causes conflict is a misunderstanding. A person can’t fix what they don’t understand or know about. Give your partner an opportunity to speak how they feel, rather than jumping to conclusions and putting the focus on everything they “aren’t” doing. Especially because projecting the blame can lead to more problems than why the conflict initially started.

Find A Solution That Works For Both Of You

After discussing the disagreement or the conflict, focus on finding a solution that you’re both happy with.

Maybe there are aspects of the relationship that you both need to work on together so that the conflict doesn’t arise again. Encourage open communication and find a way that you can both express how you feel while figuring out how you’re going to move forward. 

Be direct if something is bothering you or what should be avoided in the future, but also agree to disagree if it’s something that you can’t find common ground on. A relationship is full of compromises, but there are some things you should never compromise on, including respect. Compromise until you can find a mutual solution that you both agree with, working with each other and not against.

When we don’t handle conflict in a healthy way, it can lead to resentment and frustration. Conflict happens in relationships, but it’s important to be direct about what’s bothering you, rather than ignoring the problem. Keep an open mind when it comes to learning how to deal with conflict, and make sure there’s always a mutual understanding of respect. Conflict can be handled in a positive and healthy way, making your relationship stronger and even better than it was before.

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