Part of nurturing a healthy relationship is mastering your conflict resolution

Part of nurturing a healthy relationship is mastering your conflict resolution

How do you perceive conflict in your relationship? How do you handle it when it comes up? How effectively do you and your partner discuss issues of conflict?

One of the traps many couples fall into is discussing (or, in some cases, jumping from discussion right to “fighting about”) surface-level examples of underlying problems.

For example, perhaps a couple argues regularly because Lovebird A doesn’t help with tasks around the house without Lovebird B asking them to do it. The issue continues to come up repeatedly because they’re discussing something very specific (emptying the dishwasher, taking out the garbage) rather than the underlying concern: Lovebird B doesn’t feel a sense of partnership in taking care of their home.

It’s important to discuss the actual issues coming up in a relationship, rather than getting stuck talking in circles about a surface-level symptom of the real problem at hand.

6. Listen first

But when we choose to listen first (meaning: listen to our partner before asking them to listen to us), we’re focusing our energy on paying attention to our partner and what they’re trying to communicate to us-which means we’re more likely to actually hear what they’re trying to tell us. And that, in turn, means we’re more likely to be able to show understanding, compassion, and help resolve the issue they are trying to discuss.

7. meet in the middle

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“Meeting in the middle” has to come with a quick disclaimer, because there are some things that are firm non-negotiables for people in a relationship. (For example, exclusivity isn’t really something that can be met in the middle-if one person wants a monogamous relationship and one person wants an open relationship, there’s not a happy middle ground there.)

But, for most day-to-day things that come up, it’s important for both partners to be able and willing to meet in the middle.

In relationships, there’s rarely a right and wrong “side” of things. Each person is an equal part of the relationship, so each person’s needs and wants tend to carry equal weight (or so they should, in most cases).

But there are also some instances in which “meeting in the middle” means one person’s preference take priority. For example, if Spouse A cares a lot more about interior design and decorating the home, even though their style choices may not be something Spouse B would choose for themselves, Spouse B recognizes that this is an area that’s much more important to Spouse A, so they “meet in the middle” by letting Spouse A’s preferences hold more weight in the design decisions.

Compromise is not always meeting exactly half-way on every issue or disagreement that comes up-it’s understanding how much leeway you each have to give, so overall, across all issues and circumstances in the relationship, you each are accounted for and supported by each other.

8. Ask for what you want

One of the most common causes of unhappiness or discord in a relationship is not getting what you want-not because your partner is not willing or able to provide that, but because they don’t know that’s what you would like from them.

Sure, it’s great if your partner knows you well enough to know exactly what you want, when and how. But that takes time (and communication!) to build. Especially in newer relationships, or if you haven’t been as open or direct with your communication previously, it’s helpful (and, in many cases, necessary) to be explicitly clear about what you want or need.

For example, “I would like for you to be very quiet when you come home late and I’m already in bed. I don’t want to wake up when you come in.” Or, “I would like you to text me if you’re going to be home later than planned, because otherwise I will worry about you.”

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