Relationships - dealing with conflict
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
25th June, 20140 Comments
You fight with the most important people in your life because those relationships are worth fighting for; this anonymous quote is perhaps the reason that most couples have fights. Each relationship is different so the degree is different and the way that the partners handle it is different. Perhaps the key thing for every couple in a relationship is to know how to fight and to make sure that they both hear and be heard.
Often relationship counsellors will only see couples after they have exhausted all other possibilities and their relationship is in intensive care. While the relationship can usually be saved if the partners are willing to work at it, it takes time to repair the damage and recover. The moral really is that if you feel that your relationship has problems you should tackle them sooner rather than later. Usually suppressing feelings, especially in a relationship is not a good idea and they are likely to resurface at a later time when you are not prepared for the consequences.
Some degree of conflict in a relationship, as has been hinted at already is a positive sign. The partners are interested and engaged with each other. Clearly however, there is a balance to be struck here, if the intensity and the length of conflicts are threatening the stability of the relationship then some changes have to be made. It perhaps suggests deeper problems and the sooner the problem is addressed the better.
The reasons for conflict in a relationship are many and varied. While it is important to understand the events and the causes of the conflict, often they are a symptom of a deeper problem. Perhaps one of you is feeling taken for granted for example - and so honestly and openly exploring these feelings is important. Yet there is an irony here; being open enough to be honest and vulnerable to admit a need can be difficult if you are warring with your partner.
Being prepared to listen to your partner is the key. It is important to realise that listening in this context means more than hearing the words and understanding their meaning. It means showing that you understand what is being said to you and taking cognisance of them in your responses. Finding out how your partner feels about life in the relationship can be key to making the relationship work. Often how you think they feel in the relationship and how they actually feel can be poles apart. The only way to know for sure is to talk openly, honestly and listen.
Earlier we looked at couples going to counsellors, and the advantage of such an approach is to have someone set out a framework and offer a perspective on your interactions that you are perhaps unable to get on your own. It can be difficult to simply change on your own because almost inevitably there will be difficult blocks to overcome and you may need help if you find yourself at loggerheads with your partner, so do consider professional help early on.
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