Relationship Conflict | The Village Family Service Center

The Village Family Service Center

Relationship Conflict

As anyone who has been in a romantic relationship knows, disagreements and fights are inevitable. When two people spend a lot of time together, with their lives intertwined, they are bound to disagree from time to time. The mere fact that you fight with your partner isn't a sign there is real trouble in your relationship. In fact, when handled properly, fighting can improve your relationship. If you never fight and never talk about your problems, you will never solve them. 

By dealing with conflicts constructively, you can gain a better understanding of your partner and arrive at a solution that works for both of you.

Fair Fighting: Step by Step

  • Before you begin, ask yourself, “What exactly is bothering me? What do I want the other person to do or not do? Are my feelings in proportion to the issue?”
  • Know what your goals are before you begin. What are the possible outcomes that could be acceptable to you?
  • Remember that the idea is not to win but to come to a mutually satisfying solution to the problem.
  • Set a time for a discussion with your partner. It should be as soon as possible but agreeable to both persons. Springing a conversation on someone when they are unprepared may leave them feeling like they have to fend off an attack. If you encounter resistance to setting a time, try to help the other person see that the problem is important to you.
  • State the problem clearly. At first, try to stick to the facts; then, once you’ve stated the facts, state your feelings. Use “I” messages to describe feelings of anger, hurt, or disappointment. Avoid “you” messages such as, “you make me angry…”; instead, try something like, “I feel angry when you…”
  • Invite your partner to share his or her point of view. Be careful not to interrupt, and genuinely try to hear his or her concerns and feelings. Try to restate what you heard in a way that lets your partner know you fully understood, and ask your partner to do the same for you.
  • Try to take the other’s perspective; that is, try to see the problem through his or her eyes. The opposing viewpoint can make sense to you, even if you don’t agree with it
  • Propose specific solutions, and invite the other person to propose solutions, too. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each proposal.
  • Be willing to compromise. Allowing the other person only one option will make it difficult to resolve the concern.
  • When you reach an agreement on a way forward, celebrate! Decide together on a time to check in, discuss how things are working, and make changes to your agreement if necessary. If no solution has been reached regarding the original problem, schedule a time to revisit the issue and continue the discussion.

Our counselors are trained in many different types of relationship conflict to help you and your partner. For more information or to make an appointment to see a counselor, contact The Village Family Service Center.

Husband and wife sit apart on a couch.