From time to time every couple goes through a rough patch. Even married couples with the strongest of bonds will have a heated argument here and there.
The couples who enjoy the healthiest relationships, however, tend to be very good at managing conflict and working through disagreements. In this article, I’m going to lay out eight ways that you too can learn to work through conflicts with your partner.
- Try not to avoid or postpone difficult discussions or arguments. If your partner does something that irritates you, or if you have a pressing issue on your mind, find time to discuss it with them, and do it fast. Don’t put it off for days and weeks in the hope that it will go away – communication is key in any relationship, and keeping secrets and resentment bottled up is a sure fire way to cause tension and anger.
- Don’t make it personal and don’t throw a fit. Even if the topic you’re arguing about is something related to your partner or their actions, it’s best to avoid name-calling, insults, and accusations. If this behaviour starts to surface, take a deep breath, stay calm, keep your voice at a reasonable level, and try to have a discussion rather than a screaming match.
- Wait until you’re calm enough to think rationally. If the argument is about something that’s really got your blood boiling, don’t confront your spouse or significant other until you’ve had time to cool down a bit. Nothing productive will come from an argument unless you can think rationally and have a mature discussion.
- Do it in private. It’s never a good idea to argue in front of your children, but it’s also important to keep any serious discussions or conflicts behind closed doors. You don’t need others wading into the battle, and you don’t need the rest of the world to know about your problems. So if you’re in public, or in company, wait until you have some alone time with your partner before you air any issues.
- Recognize that it’s not about being right or wrong. Finding fault is not productive, and even if you end up being “right” about something, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll settle the argument. Regardless of who you think is in the right, the priority should be finding a solution, and that’s both parties’ responsibility.
- Be willing to accept criticism. If your partner points out an instance where you’ve done something wrong or made a mistake, own up to it and accept responsibility. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry, you’re right,” every once in a while.
- Always understand your partner’s position. In other words, don’t start ripping into your significant other because you think they’re wrong about something until you’ve really taken the time to listen and understand their point of view. It helps to repeat back to your partner what they are saying to ensure you have a clear understanding of how they’re feeling.
- Understand that sometimes, a solution will be elusive. Just because your first discussion about a contentious topic doesn’t result in a clear solution, that doesn’t mean it’s an issue that will never be sorted out. With enough work and some compromises from either side, you can usually work through even the most difficult disagreements.
If you can take the time to be calm, rational, and accepting (and if your partner is willing to do the same), most arguments and disagreements can be resolved quickly and to both partners’ satisfaction.
Adopting this approach to every conflict in your relationship can be extremely helpful in avoiding serious arguments and in keeping your relationship strong and healthy for years to come.