Mark's Blog   

Resolving Conflict in healthy ways


No matter how hard we try or how good our relationship is, conflict is unavoidable and something which every couple will experience. It is unrealistic to think that we can prevent it, but understanding some of the causes will hopefully enable us to reduce both the severity and the regularity with which it occurs, and learning how to deal with it more effectively when it does arise will help to reduce its harmful effects.

Conflict arises because we are two different people with two different personalities, two different temperaments brought up by two different families, so is it any wonder that at times we will have a difference of opinion. It is obviously normal to feel that our point of view is the right one and it takes time to work things through and reach a compromise.

It’s not just the issue which causes conflict but the way we each go about dealing with it. It is common in a relationship for one to express their anger loudly and want to pursue their partner until they have won the argument, whilst the other gives the silent treatment and attempts to withdraw emotionally, physically or both, possibly in the hope that the issue will just go away, maybe due to a fear of confrontation. Neither approach is any better or worse than the other, and both in the long term can be equally destructive.

Then of course there are the words that we use against each other which can needlessly inflame the situation, the time of day at which we choose to argue and unfortunately, our ability to argue about something insignificant because we don’t know how to address the elephant in the room, the real issue which has probably been rumbling on for some time but seems too big to deal with.

If these patterns go on unchecked for long enough they can become entrenched behaviours and we forget that in fact we are really on the same side. Through counselling we can learn to recognise the ways in which we behave and identify some of the reason why we respond in the way that we do. Learning to respect each other and appreciate our differences will help us then to begin to address the real issues rather than attacking each other and building up that wall of resentment which eventually we won’t be able to see over meaning that we may permanently lose sight of each other.