Resolving Relationship Conflicts Together

Wanting to throttle your partner from time to time is perfectly normal. But if you’re constantly coming up against the same relationship problem—and most couples do—then you’ll have to get to the root of the conflict if you want to move forward as a happier, healthier, more-connected couple. No partnership is impervious to these patterns, but they can corrode perfectly loving bonds over time, especially if you think your conflict is really about chores, or hygiene, or dirty socks on the bedroom floor. It’s not.

It’s easier to bring someone down than up. True. But you have a choice not to sit under the black cloud with your partner. Most couples in this situation don’t realize how sensitive they are to the other person’s mood—and there can be a false belief that if they don’t descend to their partner’s low energy, they’re not being supportive. In actuality, you need stay up even when your partner is down. That consistency will often pull them out from their slump.

Emotional support for each other is critical. This means giving your partner a feeling of being backed, supported; you’re behind him or her no matter what. This does not necessarily mean agreeing with one another all the time. Realistically, no two people will agree on all occasions. Emotional demands can damage the relationship.

If you find that you and your partner have differing expectations, it makes sense that you will have to make time to talk about them after stating your feelings, wishes, and desires and listening carefully to those of your partner. Decisions that might be easy to make when you’re making them only for yourself might be more difficult when they involve someone else and the best solutions might not be those you think of just on your own.

Discussion and cooperation may not provide any magic solutions to problems, but knowing you and your partner agree about how to approach the situation will relieve at least some of the stress. Relationships change over time. This is neither a good nor a bad thing, but it is a fact. What you want from a relationship in the dating stages might be quite different from what you want after you have been together a number of years. Changes in other areas of your life, outside your relationship, will have an impact on what you want and need from the relationship.

The most important thing is that you need to do a great deal of careful, respectful listening to what each wants, and a lot of careful, clear communication about what each of you wants. Change of any sort tends to be at least a little stressful, yet because it is inevitable, welcoming change as an opportunity to enhance the relationship is more fruitful than trying to keep change from happening. Planning for changes together can lead the relationship into new and exciting places.