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Healthy Relationships
March 27, 2023
5 Ways to Manage Conflict in Romantic Relationships

Mahnoor Zulfiqar

A woman in a blue shirt arguing with a man in an orange sweater in a white-painted kitchen with steel appliances

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Mastering Conflict Resolution: Tips and Techniques for Building Stronger Relationships

Disagreements are inevitable in romantic relationships. When people merge their lives and mindsets, there are bound to be occasional arguments. These can range from minor problems to more serious and persistent unresolved issues. This is natural as everyone has the right to have their own opinions and feelings, but what matters is how you deal with disagreements. Healthy communication is the key to understanding each other's feelings, managing conflicts, and sustaining long-term relationships. Arguments bring out the aspects of a relationship that need to be worked on. If they are handled respectfully and correctly, by listening to your partner, explaining your feelings, learning from mistakes, and coming to an agreed-upon solution, they could make your relationship stronger.

Here are 5 tips to help you handle arguments in a healthy way, and 3 common mistakes to avoid:

1. Listen 

 A key aspect of good communication is listening to the other person. Make sure you don’t speak over them, dismiss their points, or invalidate their feelings. Show them that you are listening and you care about their feelings. Pay attention to them and take time to understand their point and perspective by putting yourself in their shoes, think about how you would feel if the roles were reserved. Don’t object to your partner's complaints and start cross-complaining, let their feelings be validated instead of shut down. It’s also important to not assume what you think they are implying, as this causes misunderstanding and judgement; hear what they are really saying. Remember, you want to listen to understand instead of listening to just respond.

2. Maintain Respect and Establish Boundaries 

One of the most important things to remember during an argument is to remain respectful. You should manage both verbal and non-verbal aspects, such as your words, tone, facial expressions, and gestures. Try to remain calm and ensure you do not raise your voice, swear, roll your eyes, smirk, or insult them. Don’t do things that you know will evoke anger and hurt them, such as being sarcastic, name-calling, mimicking, or laughing at them. If you show respect, your partner will be inclined to do so as well. A helpful way of managing this is to establish boundaries beforehand regarding what you and your partner deem acceptable or not. This ensures that neither of you crosses these boundaries during heating moments.

3. Stick to Resolving the Current Problem 

Find out what the central issue is and stick to talking about that. Often arguments get heated and become about several other things. At times when a partner's needs repeatedly aren’t being met or their issue keeps going unresolved, they express those feelings through constant fights about other things. This can cause it to become a much larger issue. Don’t bring up unrelated past issues and mistakes or previously settled concerns. Get to the root cause by discussing what led to the argument. When you know what the actual issue is, and start discussing solutions to that solely, it will become much easier to resolve the argument.

4. Take a Time Out if Necessary 

Often in the middle of an argument, the situation becomes quite heated and can escalate quickly. In the midst of this, you may say hurtful things you don’t necessarily mean, causing further problems. If you feel that you or your partner are getting exceedingly or uncontrollably angry take some time away from the argument to cool down. This is easier said than done, especially in the middle of a heated situation, however, it can be very effective. Once the anger fades and you and your partner have had time to think about the situation and each other's feelings, you can revisit the issue with a calmer and more understanding mindset.

5. Find a Middle Ground 

It’s natural to have conflicting views, but when it becomes a fight it’s helpful to try and find a middle ground that works for both of you. You should find a balance between what you both want and are comfortable with. Take turns making small decisions, such as what to eat, or take alternate days to give each other what you want, for example, spending time doing what each of you wants. Compromise is crucial in resolving conflicts and a common part of successful long-term relationships. It doesn’t have to be a huge sacrifice, but at times when one partner cares more about a specific topic than the other, it can be beneficial for the second to compromise and find a way that can both individuals can be satisfied. When both partners feel strongly about a topic, and both want their way, compromising partially together to meet in the middle is a key way to resolve arguments. You are a team, work together to find solutions so you can succeed together.

Common mistakes to avoid:

1. Don’t Involve Others 

Issues with a relationship should remain private and between the couple. Once people are told or bought in and start to interfere, the problem becomes much larger than the couple and it becomes difficult to manage the different opinions and perspectives.

2. Don’t Compare 

This can be hurtful and make your partner feel as if they are not good enough, take away from the positive things they do and the things that make you love them, and create jealousy later.

3. Don’t Bring Up the Option of Breaking Up

 During a fight or argument, you should never threaten to leave or end the relationship or tell your partner you wish you weren’t with them. Doing this makes your partner start thinking about ending the relationship, during a low point. This can cause instability in the relationship. It prevents healthy communication and creates mistrust.

If you are in a dangerous situation, support is available for you.

For immediate threats call: 911 (Police) or 1-888-579-2888 (24/7 Victim Support Line)

For more services that are available, click here.

If you or your partner are finding it difficult to manage your emotions during arguments or would like support to repair your relationship, our Shift therapists are ready to support you:


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