4 Ways To Manage Conflict With Your Partner
4 Ways to Manage Conflict with Your Partner
Long-term, committed relationships are hard work. In a relationship, you have two very different people, with different backgrounds, different opinions and different needs coming together and trying to establish a meaningful life. It’s no surprise that many relationships do not work out. There are many opportunities for conflict! That couples will fight is a no brainer. It is not possible to be in a relationship with zero conflict. How each person manages the conflict and seeks to repair the relationship makes all the difference. Most of us are not skilled at doing conflict well. We either learn how to engage in conflict from our parents or the surrounding culture. As difficult as it can be to manage conflict in a relationship, it is possible. The more we strive to stay connected to our partners during conflict, the more we’ll be successful at staying together and thriving in our relationship.
Here Are 4 Ways to Manage Conflict With Your Partner
Make a complaint, don’t criticize
Healthy conflict begins with being specific. Instead of criticizing your partner, try a specific complaint. A complaint highlights an issue you have with one of your partner’s specific behaviors. An example of a complaint would be, “I don’t like it when you leave the dishes in the sink. That makes me feel like you don’t care about our space.” Another complaint would be, “It bothered me that you didn’t call when you were running late. It made me feel insecure.” A criticism is an attack on your partner’s character. Criticisms are usually less specific and easily become extreme knocks against our loved ones. An example of a criticism would be, “You never pick up after yourself! Do you even care about our home?” Another example would be, “You only think about yourself. Why can’t you think about me and text me when you’re running late?” When you’re making a complaint, avoid eye-rolling, sarcasm and ridicule. Initiate the complaint with a soft tone, “Something has been bothering me lately. Do you mind if we talk for a little bit?”
Adopt a problem-solving mindset
Most conflict goes south when we try to be “right” or in control. Many of us struggle to admit that we often play an important role in the problem. It’s important to remember that a healthy relationship is when both partners are getting most of their needs met. A relationship is a two-way street. Instead of needing to prove your point or ensure that your partner sees things your way, try to see the conflict as a problem that can be solved together. Seeing your relationship as a collaboration with a good friend is a helpful approach. This requires listening to each other and finding ways you can both give and compromise.
Use “I” statements rather than “You” statements
The worst thing you can do in a conflict with your partner is blame them. Even if they are in the wrong, blaming them will automatically shut them down and prevent you from solving the problem. One of the most common ways we blame our partners during conflict is by using “You” statements. For example, we look at our partner and say, “You’re so self-centered. You only think about yourself and never about my needs!” How can we express our hurt and frustration without blaming our partners? We can begin to do that by using “I” statements. You could try, “I felt hurt when you scheduled the guys night without consulting me. I wanted to have a romantic evening with you and I was disappointed it didn’t happen.” Switching from “You” statements to “I” statements will help your partner feel less defensive and more receptive to your complaints and emotional needs.
Stay physically connected
It’s easy to see your partner in the worst possible light when you’re in the throws of conflict. Fighting over text or phone can be disastrous since many of us will say things to people when we are not in their presence that we’d never say to them face-to-face. If at all possible, try to stay physically connected even in the midst of conflict. Try sitting down at the kitchen table and holding your partner’s hand while voicing a complaint. Taking a bath together while talking about a difficult subject can be another way to stay physically connected during conflict. Whether it’s putting our hand on our partner’s shoulder or holding them in bed, maintaining a connection during conflict helps us remember our love and affection for this other person. The more emotionally connected we feel to them, the harder it will be to blame and criticize them.
Counseling can give you tools to create a thriving relationship
Every relationship can benefit from couple’s counseling. Couple’s counseling is not just for relationships at the brink of falling apart. Couple’s counseling can help any partnership that needs help navigating conflict. A skilled couple’s therapist can guide you in identifying the sources of conflict and help you develop the skills you need to improve your communication! You can also work on specific goals that will help you and your partner establish patterns of emotional and sexual connection that can improve the overall quality of your relationship. If you are struck in conflict with your partner and would like help getting unstuck, please give us a call at the Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch. We would love to help you cultivate a happy and meaningful relationship with your partner.
Begin Counseling in Katy, TX
If you are ready to improve your relationship one of the therapists at The Center at Cinco Ranch can help! We provide couple’s counseling as well as other services. To begin counseling in Katy, TX follow these three steps:
- Contact our office to set up an appointment or to get more information couples counseling
- Meet with one of our skilled therapists
- Find ways to thrive in your relationship!
Other Therapy Services We Offer
Here at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch we offer counseling services for people of all ages including: women’s issues, treatment for anxiety, trauma counseling, counseling for kids, counseling for young adults, teen counseling, eating disorder treatment, depression treatment, family therapy, and group counseling.