All relationships will come up against conflict, no matter how perfect they appear to be on the outside. Contrary to popular belief, it is rarely the conflict itself that causes difficulties in a relationship, but the way you deal with it.
What doesn’t work:
There are several tactics that you may use to try and deal with conflict that simply lead to further conflict. You may find yourself threatening or blaming your partner to make them see things your way.
Alternatively you may shut down, refusing to deal with the situation, or complying with everything your partner says to avoid the issue. The trouble with all of these tactics is that they fail tackle the underlying issue – meaning the conflict is never truly resolved.
What does work:
1. Having intent to learn
Conflict occurs when both parties feel differently about a situation. While it is tempting to look at the conflict as a ‘win/lose’ situation, try to view it as an opportunity to learn. Win-win resolution tends to take place when both people are open and willing to learn more about themselves and their partner.
Learning new information about each other can help you come up with a resolution that you may not have thought of previously. Learning more about one another will also help to enhance the intimacy of your relationship.
2. Lovingly disengaging
When conflict rears its head and you aren’t in a position where you feel open to learning, you may suffer from an automatic ‘fight, flight, freeze’ response. When this happens, disengaging can be the best way to handle conflict. In contrast to withdrawing from your partner, lovingly disengaging isn’t about punishing your partner; it is an exercise in self-care.
Doing this allows the fear/anger regarding the situation to settle. Once this has happened, you should find yourselves in a better position to resolve the conflict and be open to learning.
If you find that either yourself or your partner are resistant to learning and refuse to open up – you may find it necessary to part ways. Speaking to a professional could help you if you are struggling to resolve conflict, helping you both open up to learning.