How to Have Healthy Conflict with Your Partner

Most people automatically have negative associations with the term “conflict.” However, conflict doesn’t have to mean fighting and raising your voices at each other. In fact, conflict refers to any sort of disagreement, and disagreements are unavoidable in even the most loving relationships.

But it can be hard to deal with conflicts without getting angry. The key to navigating conflicts in a mature, healthy manner is staying calm, avoiding placing personal blame, and pouring your energy into finding genuine solutions that honor both of your needs.

Here’s how to address hard conversations without hesitation and come up with workable solutions to problems.

1. Don’t Put Off Tough Conversations
If you’re upset with your partner, it’s best not to let resentment build. You might be worried that bringing up a tough topic will only lead to stress and frustration. Therefore, instead of addressing an issue, you try to shove those feelings down and suppress your emotions. But this only exacerbates your anger over time.

Instead of putting off hard conversations, it’s best to share how you’re feeling with your partner as soon as you have a private moment with ample time to talk. Starting these conversations can be scary, but it’s better to have them sooner rather than later.

2. Use “I” Statements
When you do bring up something that’s upsetting you or an issue you disagree with your partner on, try to communicate your feelings using “I” statements. Rather than structuring your statements around things that your partner did, try to focus on how you’re feeling.

For example, instead of saying, “You made me upset when you did this,” try saying something along the lines of, “I felt upset when this happened.” You might want to spend some time thinking about what you’ll say before you broach a particular conversation topic.

3. Fight the Problem, Not Each Other
Perhaps your partner has done something that genuinely hurt you, and it’s hard to hold back how you feel. Or perhaps you’re mutually facing a tough situation, and you’re not sure how to cope with it. You might both have different ideas about the best courses of action.

No matter the problem at hand, try to focus your energies on addressing the problem itself rather than attacking each other. Even if your partner’s behavior is at the root of the issue, and you need to talk to them about some habits that have hurt you, think about how you can work together to improve things.

4. Avoid Insults
In the heat of the moment, it can be tempting to insult your partner. You might have to bite your tongue to keep from calling them a name, or you may be so angry about your circumstances that you just want to lash out rather than have a real conversation. But avoiding insults in the midst of conflicts is critical.

If you and your partner start insulting each other, you can’t just take it back. When you feel like you’re about to say something you might regret, it’s time to step away and take a break from the conversation. You can always return to the topic later.

5. Check-in With Each Other
Just because a conversation about a particular topic has ended doesn’t mean the problem is completely solved. Sometimes, it will take a few conversations and extensive time to fully work through a problem. You can make it a point to check in with each other soon to share your feelings again.

Are you struggling to approach conflicts with your partner in a healthy way? A couples therapist can help. Reach out to us to find out more about our couples therapy services.