We’ve all experienced conflict in relationships.  Something is said or done. Someone is disrespected.  Feelings are hurt. Good intentions are forgotten, and good sense goes out the window.  You find yourself doing things you know are hurtful and saying things you know you don’t mean.  Sound familiar?

Destructive conflict takes on a life of its own.  It’s like a black hole that pulls in incremental injuries and micro-moments from the past.  The gap widens between you, and the disconnection accumulates.  Old wounds deepen, and resentment grows.  When conflict is in the driver’s seat, you and your partner are like crash victims without a seatbelt.

Destructive conflict is what gives conflict its bad rap, but healthy conflict in relationships does exist.  If handled constructively, conflict can be transformative and mobilizing.  Conflict is bound to happen in a relationship.  It’s inevitable. We’re only human.

It’s all in how you handle it.  So, what is healthy conflict in relationships?

Destructive vs. Constructive Conflict

Relationship issues are not born overnight.  Incremental injuries happen in our daily lives, and micro-moments resurface from past conflict, creating more disconnection and more resentment.  That’s why it is so important to know how and when to apologize. Repair of the relationship is almost a more valuable skill than creating good conflict. Almost.

What’s more important is healthy conflict skills. The dialogue that comes before repair is needed – what is said and done in those small moments.  One of the differences between destructive and constructive conflict is the intention behind what is said and done.  Are you proactive in preventing relationship crisis?  Or, are you reactive in fighting to win?