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Its a myth that a healthy relationship has no conflict. Some conflict in a close relationship is inevitable. After all, you’re two unique individuals with two different personalities, backgrounds, thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Expecting agreement on everything is unrealistic and impossible. The difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship is in how conflict is handled, not whether it exists or not. Here are some ideas about how to argue fairly and in a healthy way with your partner.
Do listen to your partner. Allow each other to say what’s on their mind without interrupting.
Don’t blame. Focus on yourself and your own feelings. One golden rule is to use “I” instead of “you” statements. Instead of saying, “You never help out in the kitchen!” say something like, “When you don’t help out in the kitchen, I feel frustrated”.
Do reflect your partner’s feelings. Let them know that you hear their perspective. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with your partner’s opinion, but it shows to them that you understand their emotions and get where they’re coming from.
Don’t name call. This shows a lack or respect and can escalate things quickly.
Do take five minutes if you need it. If things start to get heated, know when to take a break. Tell your partner you need a few minutes to cool down but that you’ll be back to talk about the problem soon. Make sure you say you’ll come back to talk so your partner doesn’t feel abandoned.
Don’t raise your voice. If you notice you’re raising your voice, its time to take a quick break to calm down.
Do focus on the problem as a team. Remember, you both want this relationship to succeed. The problem is the enemy, not each other.
Don’t use generalizations. Try not to say, “you never” or “you always”. First, that is most likely a false statement as most things don’t happen never or always. And second, your partner will get defensive and it will escalate the conflict.
To learn more about how to effectively handle conflict and increase intimacy with your partner, please contact us to book a couples counselling session. Okanagan Clinical Counselling Services offers individual, couples, family and group counselling services specializing in a variety of concerns including romantic relationships. OCCS has 3 locations in downtown Kelowna, Westbank, and our newest location in Penticton with clinicians who have extensive experience in relationship counselling.
This blog was written by:
B.A. Psyc, M.Ed. Counsel
Registered Clinical Counsellor
Okanagan Clinical Counselling Services
Direct Line: 250 870 8330