Learning how to balance conflict in a romantic relationship

Last week, we discussed family conflict. This week, it is time to discuss the elephant in the room – romantic conflict. Balancing conflict with more than conflict in a romantic relationship is very challenging. Let’s help dive into some of the nuances of these conflicts.

Maintaining a personal, romantic relationship is one of the most rewarding and stressful experiences that you go through. Navigating romantic relationships is very challenging and time-consuming. It is important to balance the conflicts that arise in a relationship with the relationship itself. Sometimes, it is not worth it to keep going on in a relationship if the conflict is too great. There is a difference between a healthy and unhealthy conflict.

Identifying an unhealthy conflict

Conflict exists all around us. In a romantic relationship, an unhealthy conflict is not good. How do we know if our romantic conflict is unhealthy? Some of the most tell-tale signs are as follows: 1) yelling, 2) close-mindedness, 3) name-calling, 4) focusing on the person, not the issue, 5) an unwillingness to let conflicts go, 6) physical abuse. A few of these are obvious, and others are less so. If your partner is unwilling to open their mind to your nuances, that’s a sign that the relationship could be going in the wrong direction. Spending the time and energy to make a romantic relationship work should not result in one person closing their mind to your ideas. Similarly, if conflicts arise, and the conflict is about you instead of about the issue, this is another sign that the relationship is going in the wrong direction.

Resolving healthy conflict

Now that we got unhealthy conflict out of the way, it’s time to focus on the healthy conflict. Healthy conflict exists all the time in romantic relationships. Trust, dependency, and commitment are three of the biggest issues in romantic relationship conflict. How to name trust issues? #4 from above is huge on trust. If attacks and conflicts arise focused on the other person and not the issue, there’s trust issues there. Why attack your partner’s character if it’s just an issue? It’s because you might not trust the other person.

On the other side of trust is dependency. While it’s hard to imagine dependency as a part of conflict, it is. When you become too dependent on your partner (or they become too dependent on you), your world goes upside down very easily. You are away for a weekend, you get super angry. Dependency causes conflicts with your partner and others. If there is a dependency imbalance, the created conflict can exceed any resolution. It becomes very challenging to resolve a conflict that relates to dependency, but nipping it in the bud early is the best way. Recognizing that you are becoming dependent is the best way to get rid of that conflict early.

Commitment is the last healthy conflict that’s worth resolving. Using all the skills described in the preceding blog posts, resolving conflicts surrounding commitment are the most challenging and most rewarding. First, commitment comes down to communication. Active listening to decide what the cause of any commitment issues are is step 1. Really understanding your partner’s perspective on your relationship is instrumental to resolving any conflicts surrounding commitment. So, managing commitment conflict is not more intellectually challenging than managing other kinds of conflict, though it is more emotionally difficult.

Next time

Time to pivot from conflict and look at yourself from in the inside. The next post will take a while because it will be long and pretty deep. Get excited!

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