Conflict within romantic relationships is inevitable. When you integrate your life with
another person, it is bound to lead to disputes at some point.
Arguments within romantic relationships range from small ones surrounding what movie to watch to larger ones over career choices or how to raise children. It’s important to
note that while arguments aren’t ideal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is trouble
in your relationship. When handled correctly, conflict can help to strengthen a
relationship. However, conflicts can escalate to where nothing is resolved and can lead
to the deterioration in relationships.
On the flip side, a couple that never has a conflict or talks about problems doesn’t have
an opportunity to communicate and resolve them. Finding a balance between high
levels of conflict and no conflict can help couples have a long and healthy relationship together.
That being said,
having specific tools and strategies at your disposal during a conflict
can help improve the odds of a successful resolution. Here are some tools that can help
solve relationship conflict:
It can be easy for people to beat around the bush instead of plaining stating what is
upsetting or bothering them. When in conflict, people often choose a more subtle and
indirect way of expressing their displeasure.
For instance, partners may avoid discussing the conflict by switching topics or
minimizing their feelings by responding with “I’m fine” after their partner notices they are
irritated. This lack of directness leaves both partners without a clear guide as to what
the problem is, how the other person is feeling, or how to solve the problem.
Instead, work towards having direct communication with your partner. While it may be a
bit uncomfortable at first, directly stating what is bothering you is the first step in solving
Use “I” Statements & quotes to talk about the way you feel without blaming your partner
Statements that directly blame or put your partner as the direct reason for your feeling
seldomly help produce a good healthy dialogue on solving the problem. This is because
people typically go on the defense when they feel blamed or attacked in a conversation.
Instead, a more constructive way to communicate your feelings is through the use of “I
statements.” These statements focus on how you feel instead of being directed at your
partner. For instance, an “I statement” would pair an emotion and a behavior description
that focuses on a specific behavior your partner is engaged in. An example of this could
be, “I feel sad when you are on your phone during dinner.” This helps you be direct
while focusing on your partner’s specific behavior and the emotion that it makes you
Stay away from using the words like “never” or “always” during an argument
Saying things like “You are always selfish” during an argument leads the other partner
to feel like you’re attacking their character. This leads to defensiveness, stonewalling,
and decreased chance of solving the conflict at hand.
Instead of using words that suggest that you’re partner “always”or “never” does
something that bothers you, try focusing on the particular situation at hand. Focusing on
the current situation allows you and your partner to work together to resolve the current
conflict without bringing up one’s character or other moments within the relationship.
Not Everything Needs to be a Conflict
Not every single situation needs to turn into a conflict. A relationship is about
compromise and understanding. While some things do need to be addressed,
especially if they make you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or hurt, it may be best to let go
of minor issues such as forgetting to empty the dishwasher once in a while.
Listen to What your Partner is Saying
Sometimes we fall into the habit of listening to our partners to respond. But,
unfortunately, when we listen to respond instead of listening to comprehend, sometimes
we miss what our partner is trying to tell us.
Trying practicing active listening by reflecting the content of what your partner is telling
you back to them. This will help you better understand what your partner is telling you
and lead to more understanding of the conflict and better discussions surrounding it.
Know When it is Time to Take a Time-Out
Tensions can run high at times during a conflict. While it’s important to talk it out,
stepping away from the problem for a bit can also be beneficial. Taking a break can
allow you to process your own emotions around the conflict and calm any heightened
emotions that may have come about.
However, its essential to note that taking a time-out and removing yourself from the
situation is different. By taking a breather, you and your partner communicate how long
the time-out will be, where you are going (taking a walk around the block, going on a car
ride, etc.), and when you are going to continue the conversation. This communication
will help both partners feel respected and minimize any feelings of abandonment or
For instance, communicating your need for a break could look like, "Can we take a 20-
minute break from this conversation? I want to calm down a bit and go for a walk around
the block. We can talk about this more when I get back." Clearly stating your need for a
break and being specific and direct will allow your partner to understand where you are
coming from and be on the same page.