Conflicts are an unavoidable yet stress-inducing part of any romantic relationship. Most conflicts are small and become a non-issue with the passing of a given situation – such as a disagreement over where to go for dinner. However, others are more serious in nature and are jarring enough to alter the course of a relationship, setting the tone for feelings of resentment and emotional disconnectedness.
When handled appropriately conflict can be a healthy part of a relationship, forcing partners to come to terms with the areas of the relationship that need improvement. Here are some ways to successfully mitigate conflict with your partner and end each fight on a note of healing and clarity.
Take Time to Reflect
In the aftermath of a heated argument, it may feel natural to lash out at your partner, especially in the midst of heightened emotions. Take some time away from your partner after an argument and consider with a clear mind the events that had just unfolded. Grant your partner the same courtesy and understand that each of you may require your own time to process. What can you learn from this experience? What does this argument teach you about the dynamic of your relationship? What problems are there that need to be solved and worked through?
The old saying about not “fighting fire with fire” rings true here. Responding in a way that only intensifies emotions serves neither you nor your partner. Any argument is accompanied by lessons to be learned, and during the time away from each other you and your partner have likely given matters significant thought. Take an objective approach to rehashing the argument. Communicate your end in an honest manner, free of accusations and unrelated drama, and allow your partner to do the same. Make sure you both ask necessary questions, allowing adequate time and patience to accommodate each other’s responses.
The sentiment of being responsible for our actions goes far past the grade school playground; it is a fixture of healthy human communication. If an argument has arisen, there are transgressions that have been made. It may be easy to take the victim mindset and fixate on all the ways you have been wronged; however, this is unproductive, not to mention selfish. Consider the areas where you have fallen short, in both the argument and the relationship in general, and make sure you communicate these feelings and thoughts with your partner. Apologize where you feel called to do so and be sure to acknowledge your partner’s apology.
Come to a Conclusion
Getting your thoughts and feelings into the open can feel great in the short-term; however, you and your partner are sure to find each other in a deja vu like scenario of the same argument without an appropriate call to action. What are the takeaways from both your side and your partner’s side? What have you each learned? What can you each commit to improving in order to gain closure from the experience and move forward in a positive way?
Lead With Love and Forgiveness
The time following a major argument can feel awkward, and both of you may feel as though you are walking on eggshells for a period of time. Keeping in mind the positive attributes you love about your partner, continue to lead your interactions with your partner with love and consideration.
If you both decide you need more space in the interim, be gracious and honor that need. If engaging with your partner again feels right and you both agree you are ready, acknowledge this and reach out. Forgiveness may not happen instantly, especially after more serious arguments, but make sure you both forgive each other in due time.
Consider Couples’ Therapy and Final Thoughts
While many couples are able to take the healing process after an argument into their own hands and arrive at a place of togetherness, other couples feel burdened by such conflict; this is especially true for couples who have found themselves having the same arguments time and time again.
Seeking the help of a professional counselor who specializes in relationship counseling can guide committed yet troubled couples in breaking this cycle of conflict. Relationship therapists often specialize in multiple relationship issues outside of conflict resolution, such as those pertaining to intimacy and family. They are skilled at creating the productive dialogue necessary to get to the bottom of a couple’s troubles and help couples implement actionable solutions.
Most couples often ignore their problems because they are comfortable with their regular flow. However, that can lead to unhealthy habits and may put a damper on the rest of their relationship. Depending on the seriousness of a relationship can determine what type of help a couple may need.