The Definitive Guide to Relationship Conflict [Part 2]

Thu Aug 24 2023

⬅️ Part 1

Common Questions

What is Healthy Conflict in a Relationship?

Healthy conflict is more than just a disagreement; it’s an opportunity for growth and understanding. When approached constructively, conflict can serve as a catalyst for change and provide a chance for relationship enhancement. It’s not about winning or losing but about understanding and learning. Through conflict, you can gain a deeper understanding of your partner and even yourself. It’s a way to confront issues head-on, rather than sweeping them under the rug, which often leads to resentment.

The Growth Perspective

Conflict is growth trying to happen. It’s an opportunity to better understand your partner’s needs, desires, and expectations. When you can navigate through a conflict successfully, you come out on the other side stronger and more resilient as a couple.

How to Resolve Conflict When Both Feel Strongly

When both parties feel strongly about a particular issue, it can be challenging to find common ground. However, the key to resolving such conflicts lies in your approach.

The Creative Headspace

To find a solution that satisfies both parties, you need to be in a creative headspace. Emotional blockers like defensiveness, stress, anger, and fear can stifle creativity and prevent resolution. Take time to alleviate these emotional states before attempting to resolve the conflict. This will enable you to listen actively and think creatively, paving the way for a solution.

Examples and Scenarios

Unhealthy Conflict in Relationships

Unhealthy conflict can manifest in various ways, such as talking maliciously about your partner to someone else, lying, or breaking down trust. These actions don’t solve the problem; they exacerbate it and can cause irreparable damage to the relationship.

Relationship Conflicts Examples

Romantic Relationships

  • Jealousy: One partner may feel jealous of the other’s friendships or achievements. This can lead to possessiveness and can stifle the individual growth of both partners.
  • Communication Issues: Lack of open and honest communication can lead to misunderstandings. This can manifest as unnecessary arguments and can create a rift between partners.
  • Incompatibility: Differences in values, interests, or life goals can create conflict. While opposites do attract, core incompatibilities can lead to long-term issues if not addressed.


  • Betrayal: One friend may betray the trust of the other, perhaps by sharing confidential information. This can lead to a breakdown in communication and may end the friendship.
  • Neglect: One friend may feel neglected or taken for granted, leading to feelings of resentment.
  • Competitiveness: Friends may become overly competitive, affecting the friendship negatively. This can manifest as one-upmanship and can create a toxic environment.
pit of despair


Us vs. Them Mentality

This mentality can be destructive. It’s not you against your partner; it’s both of you against the problem. Viewing conflict as a battle to be won only leads to losers, not solutions.

Not Listening

Active listening is crucial in resolving conflict. If you’re already thinking of your rebuttal while your partner is speaking, you’re not really listening. This can lead to misunderstandings and can prolong the conflict.


Raising your voice won’t help you win an argument. It will only escalate the conflict and can lead to hurt feelings and resentment.

Conflict Resolution Skills

Conflict resolution boils down to both parties being able to listen and be heard. To facilitate this, the conflict needs to be de-escalated.

Example of Listening

Don’t think of your rebuttal when the other person is talking. Instead, try to understand their perspective. This is called empathy.

The Power of Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s more than just hearing what the other person is saying; it’s about understanding where they’re coming from. This skill can be developed over time and is crucial for effective conflict resolution.

Conflict Resolution Exercises for Couples

  • Turn-Taking: Each partner speaks for a set amount of time while the other listens. This ensures that both parties have an equal opportunity to express themselves.
  • Mirroring: Repeat back what you heard your partner say to ensure you understand them. This can help clarify any misunderstandings in real-time.
  • Safe Words: Use a safe word to pause the conversation when things get too heated. This can provide a much-needed break and can help both parties approach the conflict with a clearer mind.
  • Write it Down: Sometimes writing your thoughts can make it easier to express them. This can also serve as a reference point for future discussions.
  • Seek Third-Party Mediation: Sometimes an impartial third party can provide valuable perspective. This can be a therapist or a mutual friend who can provide unbiased advice.

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