Conflict will always arise between couples. However, the way that people in relationships deal with this can strengthen bonds and improve intimacy. It also has the potential to create distrust and even cause contempt, which is why it’s so vital to be prepared for the sensitive spots and able to handle them in a constructive way. These are 7 key areas of conflict for couples and relationships.
- Defensiveness and denying responsibility. If there is a problem then refusing to acknowledge it won’t make it go away. Nevertheless, many of us take this approach when a partner raises something they are not happy with. Denying having done anything wrong and refusing to engage will mean a partner doesn’t feel listened to and communication can break down.
- Insisting on being right. We all have different perspectives and insisting that yours is the only one will be a quick route to further conflict. Instead, create space to entertain the idea that someone else might hold a different view that isn’t necessarily any less valid than yours.
- Trying to avoid an argument. Few of us really enjoy conflict and even those that do can still find it hard to set boundaries. As a result, we can end up in a situation where we avoid difficult conversations up until the moment when we can’t contain our emotions anymore and then explode. This approach can cause problems to fester and means that, if you do have issues, they will come as a complete surprise to your partner.
- Resorting to a character attack. Even if you don’t like someone else’s behaviour, steer clear of attacking their personality during conflict or the conversation will become deeply personal and painful. If you start using labels such as “lazy” or “mean” when you’re bringing up behaviours it will be even harder to move on from what’s happened.
- Handling conflict by reaching for blame. If your first instinct is to try and blame someone else when a tough situation arises this can escalate the situation. Admitting fault is hard for everyone but refusing to do this by pushing the blame onto others means you’re missing out on the opportunity to objectively analyse a situation and come up with a solution.
- Making generalising statements. For example, “you always do what you want to do.” Resolving a conflict can seem impossible if one person insists on bringing up every other painful incident and action from the past - before you generalise, think about whether or not the statement is true and whether it’s helpful.
- Not listening. There are many reasons we don’t listen in a conflict situation, from not really wanting to hear what the other person has to say, to rehearsing our own next lines. Listening is vital to healthily resolving conflict and hearing what is really required from you if you want to move on.
Every couple has their own areas where conflict can easily arise and be challenging to deal with. However, these 7 key flash points tend to be sensitive for everyone.
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