If you’re in a long-term relationship, there’s a good chance that you and your partner will occasionally have disagreements. There’s nothing wrong with this; it’s normal and even healthy to have minor differences in opinion at times. Whether it’s a tiff about household chores or a serious fight about the fundamentals of your relationship, an occasional conflict is bound to happen. The variable in these situations is how you handle differences in opinions and the ways you work through them to reach a resolution. A persistent issue that plagues many couples is the inability to properly communicate and resolve problems when conflict arises. Often times, these issues with communication can be even worse than the problems that caused the disagreements in the first place. If a significant other shuts down, gets mean, raises their voice, or brings up past transgressions when trying to resolve a conflict, it can cause undue stress on a relationship. Often times, serious communication issues can lead to more fighting, infidelity, or divorce.
Taking communication and conflict resolution seriously can have a positive effect on your relationship. During a conflict when you and your partner are both heard, understood, and communicated with properly, you can build trust and become stronger as a couple. But, how do you properly communicate during a fight? The next time you’re in an argument, try these tactics to have a positive experience:
Be aware: Being present during a disagreement is the first way to hone your communication and conflict resolution skills. Being mindful allows you to say things in a thoughtful and deliberate way and shows your partner that you want to reach a resolution.
Remain calm: Before you say anything, think about the consequences of your words. If you’re angry, take a breath and make sure you aren’t saying anything that you’ll regret.
Compromise: At times, you simply must agree to disagree or find a way to reach a mutually agreed upon understanding. Don’t feel like you have to “win” every argument, or always make it, so your partner feels bad about the fight. Being able to compromise, admit fault, apologize, or merely let something go is a great skill to have.
Don’t get frustrated if these skills take some time getting used to. Just as anything in life, practice makes perfect. If you try to use these skills each time a disagreement takes place, you’ll slowly be able to work through conflict in a positive manner.
Do you still need some assistance with communication and conflict resolution? Therapists often help couples hone these skills and learn the best ways to work through conflict. They can help you and your partner become better communicators, which can allow your relationship to flourish long term. Ready to learn how to communicate to the best of your abilities? Talk to your therapist today.
Dr. Takos is a Newport Beach Psychologist specializing in the treatment of adolescents and adults suffering from depression, anxiety, and trauma-and stressor-related disorders.