Jean Huber, LCSW

Feel Like You’re Lacking the Tools to Handle Relationship Conflict? – Use These 4 Steps

Sooner or later every couple will experience a relationship conflict.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to resolve any couples conflict amicably when it occurs, instead of letting things get out of hand?

And you can learn to do exactly that! In fact, there are many ways of handling conflict in healthy ways. But perhaps the best way to do this is by utilizing strategies where you and your partner are being responsive to each other.

How can you make that possible?

Think about these four steps for managing and resolving relationship conflict.

1. Talk More About Your Feelings vs. Your Partner’s Actions

In a relationship conflict, it’s very common for one partner to be upset at their partner’s actions. “How could you forget to make those appointments? Didn’t we just talk about doing that yesterday?!”

Yes, you’re frustrated, and perhaps rightly so. But at the same time, you are judging your partner. And let’s face it, nobody enjoys being judged.

Approaching the matter this way only serves to escalate the conflict in your marriage, not solve it. Instead, try being more responsive by discussing how you felt when your partner did what they did. For example, “I felt unheard and ignored when you didn’t make the appointments.”

Remember though, when employing this method, make sure you are not trying to “score points” on your partner. Rather, you are attempting to communicate what you are feeling.

2. Inquire Why They Did What They Did

Next, ask your partner why they did what they did. This gives your partner the opportunity to discuss what happened from their perspective.

For instance, in the appointment example above, your partner might say that they simply forgot to make the appointments. Perhaps other things came up during the day that pushed that task to the back of their mind.

Use this time to listen to your partner. Don’t be tempted to try to connect-the-dots or draw your own conclusions. Instead, try to see things from their perspective and experience.

3. Ask for Change, Don’t Demand It!

When working towards resolving relationship conflict, it’s more useful to ask for changes you want to occur rather than demanding them. Why?

Even though you see these changes as essential, browbeating them onto your partner is not productive. Despite what you believe are good intentions, your partner will feel like they are having demands placed on them. This only builds resentment and doesn’t solve a couple’s conflict.

Another way to do this is having an active discussion with your partner where you work together towards solutions. Such as, talking about ways that your partner can remember important tasks so that they get done. That way you both have something to agree upon.

4. Have the Talk Before It’s Too Late

Finally, avoid waiting until it’s too late to have these conversations with your partner. Waiting only causes anger and resentment to eventually build up inside you. And when you finally do “let loose,” it will not be in the form of a mutually beneficial discussion.

Instead, all you’ll do is unleash your emotions on your partner. In turn, this only causes them to become defensive and perhaps even to shut down. Thus, in the end, the relationship conflict isn’t resolved at all.

For instance, instead of talking to your partner about how they don’t help with chores, you hold in those feelings over months or even years. Finally, when you reach the breaking point, those feelings come out, causing a huge upheaval and a lot of damage.

Resolving relationship conflict isn’t always easy. It doesn’t take much for either side to get off track and start using language that hurts, not helps.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. By being responsive it’s possible to address conflict in your marriage or other kinds of couples conflict in general. If you feel like you need more help, consider getting couples counseling.

I’d be happy to help you find healthy ways to resolve your conflict. Please contact me or learn more about my approach to couples counseling by clicking HERE.

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