Relationship Advice on Healthy Conflict

Arguments are going to happen from time to time between two independent adults. A lot of us think our relationships are bad if we argue, but that is not necessarily true. We have all survived arguments in relationships and so we know that it isn't always a bad thing.  Learning to express oneself and deal healthily with arguments between two or more adults is a great skill to develop.

However, there are a lot of unhealthy ways to argue.  And  arguing in a bad way is a problem. Even just a little conflict that damages the relationship can lead to divorce or breaking up.  So it is useful to learn how to identify bad arguing and then learn what good arguing looks like.

"Bad arguing" happens in several forms. The first is attacking and withdrawing. In relationships, one of you is usually more of an attacker and the other a withdraw-er. Attacking your mate, screaming at them, putting them down is very unhealthy. Just so, withdrawing into silence for days also causes relationship damage.

Another big cause of damage in your relationship is if during an argument you say things that are very hurtful to your mate, like "you're just an idiot" or "a worthless wench."

Studies have shown that if one or both partners treat each other with scorn or contempt during an argument, that relationship gets severely damaged. It is actually a sure sign that the relationship will eventually dissolve.  So if you treat your mate with scorn or get treated with scorn you should take some time to study how to deal with conflict in a healthier way.

A healthy way to argue is to understand that arguments will happen from time to time. You both have your own values and views and opinions and perspectives. Next, try to breathe and look your mate in the eye and stay present. Focusing on your breathing will help you to stay somewhat calm.

Next, learn to de-escalate arguments. If they're yelling at you, talk softly and calmly, and you'll notice they may start to talk more softly as well. If you are screaming, remember to breathe and try to lower the volume. It can take a while to learn this skill, but it does work.

Another key skill for good arguing is to ask your lover what's important to them about the thing you're arguing over. Then shut up and LISTEN. You don't have to agree, but just listening will make room for you to share your views and then you can often get to a compromise.

Lastly, a great move is to reconnect with your lover fast after the argument is over. Don't let the resentment and silence linger or build up. This is another sure sign of relationship damage.  Letting the distance build up between you just confirms the problem. 

Instead, reconnect.  Say "I'm sorry we disagreed, are you all right?" Break the ice!  Be the bigger person.  Don't wait for your lover or spouse to apologize.  Once things have cooled down, go to your mate and reconnect.  This makes a major difference in reducing the damage from an argument.

There is much more to learn about good conflict, but this is a good start.

Here are some links to other information that can be of help.

We never got taught relationship skills in school.  Spending a few minutes learning more relationship intelligence can pay off with years of more love, deeper bonding and emotional connection.