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?
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What is Unhealthy Conflict in Relationships?
Are reactive? Fighting to win can look like a lot of little things. Some examples of destructive dialogue include:
- Rolling the Eyes – Your eye rolling and lack of eye contact creates a state of dismissal.
- Undermining your Partner – Your off-the-cuff comments build resentment.
- Ignoring your Partner – Your lack of communication prevents resolution.
These relational habits, along with any problems in your love life, were not born yesterday or the day before – they’ve been happening over time. It’s not like you woke up one morning and there were all of these issues. Eventually, these seemingly small, insignificant habitual behaviors and problems can lead you to a relationship crisis.
What is Healthy Conflict in Relationships?
Are you proactive? Healthy conflict in relationships is preventing crisis. Constructive dialogue is:
- Speaking from Emotion – Not the content of what your partner did, but how it made you feel.
- Remembering Good Intentions – Not assuming your partner had bad intentions
- Giving your Partner Time – Not springing conflictual conversations on your partner without warning.
Conflict doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, conflict doesn’t have to be a crisis or the end. Good conflict can actually be transformative and mobilizing in a relationship. You just need the tools to avoid a relationship crisis when life throws challenges your way.
Love. Live. Better
Remember, if you’re in it to win it, you’re not going to resolve it. Conflict is going to happen. It’s all in how you handle it. It’s in the small things you do and the small windows of time. Let’s give you the tools to love and live better!
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