It is often [rightly] said that two people cannot coexist without occasional differences, arguments and conflicts.
This is truer especially in its application to relationships, marriages and other emotional/romantic situations.
While there’s to be a moderation in the regularity of these conflicts, this in itself is still not enough to keep the relationship healthy. Because even if you keep it at a reasonable once in two months, the severity of the conflict could still be enough to change the balance of the relationship and set it on a path to an irrevocable downturn.
So it is both important to keep misunderstandings minimal, and to understand how to properly navigate the situations as well.
In the next paragraphs you are about to read, we list 5 tested, proven, expert-proffered ways to deal with conflicts in romantic relationships.
1. Have you been fighting fair?
According to Katie Krimer, a New York City-based psychotherapist, there are different types of personalities when it comes to conflicts in relationships; each with its shortcomings. Some try to stay away from disputes altogether, or withdraw from them (avoidant). Others can get fixated on winning the fight at all costs (competing). Some others prematurely let go of their gripes in order to move on (accommodating).
But none of these are actually right ways to resolve differences. Compromise (letting go of things you can’t change and finding a middle ground) and collaboration (working like a team to find a solution) are better ways to deal with relationship fights, and until you realize which side of the divide you belong to, fighting healthily might remain a little difficult.
So, if your present style is one of the toxic dispute resolution techniques, actively and intentionally switching to one of the better ones is the first step to ensuring that your conflicts are properly resolved and a stronger intimacy is forged from each point of misunderstanding.
2. Learn the skill of apologizing
A 2016 study by Professor Amy S. Ebesu Hubbard found that sincerely ‘owning up’ is the most crucial step of the process. You want to make your apology as sincere as possible and you want your partner to see and feel it that you really mean it when you say you will turn a new leaf.
So make your apologies count. Make the required changes. There’s no better apology than this.
3. Don’t always deal with issues in the heat of the moment
Sometimes, take a break. Chill out and avoid addressing issues at the moment of occurrence. It helps the bad energy diffuse and allows you face issues from a better mental state than when you jump right into it ‘as e dey hot.’
Cooling off doesn’t mean, though, that you should disengage or shut down — just that you should take a pause before continuing, Katherine M. Hertlein, a professor in the Couple and Family Therapy program at University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine, explains that it takes about 20 minutes for the body to calm back down to baseline after being in a fight-or-flight state. “But I suggest couples to take 40 minutes off, just to make sure they’re appropriately calm,” she says.
4. Who can you call on?
Getting through a conflict is easier if you have outside sources of support, a common-sense fact that research backs up.
“Friends can help us make sense of things happening with our partners,” William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, says. He adds that “they can also give us advice, or provide us with a break to relax and not think about it for a while.”
But you want to be sure you are approaching the ‘right’ friends or family members for support; those who have a track record of being emotionally intelligent and rational.
5. Talk about it
There aren’t many things in a relationship that honest, good-to-God conversations can’t t take care of. Find a time when you’re both happy to talk about what’s allowed and what’s off-limits during fights. Learn from each other boundaries to not cross, and words to not hurl at each other no matter how angry or hurt you are.
This may not take away the fights, but could, at least, enable you do it right and come out stronger and better.
Extra tip: Don’t dredge up issues from past fights that have been settled, especially if the partner has actively been trying to rectify the issue by trying to turn a new leaf. Let bygone be bygone, people. Let the thing go!