You can try to avoid conflict by tamping down negative emotions and brushing seemingly minor issues under the rug, but at some point, they will come back to bite you. Many times this is in the form of a blowup that is completely disproportional to whatever seemed to trigger it. You end up fighting not only about the topic at hand but ten other previously unaddressed issues as well.
As uncomfortable as it can be, the best way to avoid this situation and grow as a couple is to deal with issues as they occur. Studies have shown that it is not whether a couple fights that predicts divorce, but how they fight.
Here are some tips for fighting respectfully and making an argument an opportunity for growth and resolution:
- Focus on the behavior, not the person. Imagine being on the receiving end of these statements: “You are such an inconsiderate jerk!” and, “I’m really mad that you forgot about our plans tonight.” The first one feels a bit harsh, doesn’t it? Understandable, since it is attacking you as a person. The second one, while perhaps still not pleasant, is simply calling you out on your actions.
You might be surprised by the increased sense of connection and intimacy in your relationship after working through an issue by “fighting fair”. Conflict can be constructive! If we take a breathe and think about our response in those heated moments, we can make conflict an opportunity to grow as a couple.
Tune in next week for more relationship ideas.
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The Couple Checkup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The Couple Checkup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy.
The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.