5 Ways to Have Healthy Conflict in Your Relationship

Conflicts are an inevitable reality in any relationship. Even the happiest couples will fight sometimes. This does not mean that your relationship is doomed. However, whether or not you fight isn’t as important as the way you fight. It might sound strange, but yes, there are different ways of approaching conflict that can strengthen your relationship and bring you closer.

With the right perspective, you can have healthier conflicts within your relationship. Yet many of us have no model for what healthy conflict looks like. These tips will help you learn the ins and outs of healthy conflict so that you can apply these strategies to your relationship.

Avoid Defensiveness

When your partner comes to you with a problem, acting defensive might be your first instinct. It’s only natural to feel like you instantly need to defend yourself. But remember, when your partner is upset about a problem in your relationship, they’re not necessarily attacking you. Rather than taking a defensive stance right away, take some time to process what your partner is sharing with you. Consider how you can help work together on a solution rather than trying to dismiss the problem.

Healthy Criticism

What if you’re the one coming to your partner with an issue? Maybe your partner is practically perfect for you in every way—but every once in a while, they’re bound to do something that frustrates you. When you bring it up to your partner, it’s easy to be harsh and give in to strong emotions. Instead, try to focus on constructive criticism. What positive changes do you want to see in your relationship, and how can you both come together to make these changes?

Don’t Let Issues Fester

Something happened that upset you. Maybe it was something your partner did or something that they said that hurt your feelings. Either way, you’re unhappy but hesitant to bring it up to your partner. You’re wondering if you’re making a big deal out of nothing. You might be doubting your initial reaction and questioning if you overreacted. However, rather than waiting it out and hoping the problem will go away on its own, you’re better off telling your partner how you feel right away.

Timing Conversations

While it’s important not to let hurt feelings fester, it’s also crucial to start heavy conversations at the right time. If you need to talk about something that’s weighing on your mind, don’t bring it up to your partner in public or at a moment when they’re dealing with another stressful situation. You should also wait for an opportunity when you know that you’ll have plenty of time to talk things through. If you’re both rushed, you might leave important things unsaid. Talk to your partner in a private, comfortable setting when you have extended time for a deep conversation.

Shift Your Perspective

Finally, the most important aspect of healthy relationship conflicts involves a significant perspective shift. When you’re dealing with an issue in your relationship, you might butt heads. It’s easy to feel like it’s you against your partner. But this attitude drives unhealthy conflicts. When your conflicts turn into a competition, with one partner trying to “win” over the other, your relationship can go south. Instead, think about you and your partner going up against the problem itself. Basically, you’re trying to work as a team rather than ending up at odds with each other.

Are you and your partner struggling to navigate conflicts in your relationship? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session for couples therapy.