A healthy relationship is a balance of emotions. There are ups and downs. Conflicts happen, but they are not always a bad thing. Small conflicts slowly strengthen a relationship. Big conflicts can be milestones in the evolution of a close relationship.
No matter how big or small the conflict, it is the way in which it is resolved between two people that determines it's affect on the relationship. There are many ways to approach a conflict. Which ways are used can make a big difference.
Some people go out of their way to avoid or deny any conflict. This can give some immediate relief, but the conflict is still there and will likely come back up again. Conflicts have a way of coming up at unexpected times and in unexpected places. Leaving conflicts unresolved leaves you open to a surprise later!
Some people would rather give in than fight at all. This seems like a good way to avoid uncomfortable encounters, however, it means compromising in areas that you may feel strongly about. After that has happened a few dozen or even hundreds of times, the frustration of giving in will take over and then you'll have a BIG fight on your hands!
Then there is the approach of getting mad and blaming the other person. Sounds like a good defensive move that may keep you safe. But the result is that only more conflict is created by that tactic. This is also the strategy of someone who has to be right all of the time. They have to win no matter what.
Some people have become masters at pretending to compromise but are really using manipulative language to "win" in the conflict. This is just another selfish approach and does nothing to help a relationship.
None of these techniques do anything to nurture a healthy relationship. If you find yourself in a crumbling relationship because of continuous conflict, look at the ways in which the conflict is being resolved and you'll probably discover areas on which you can work.
The way to truly work on a conflict is to remember that both of you want to come out of it with a clearer understanding of each other, a better appreciation for each other, and a higher level of respect. No matter how serious the conflict, this is the only way both people can "win".
There are ways in which a conflict can be resolved between people where the results are equally shared.
There are often more than two alternatives in any conflict. If neither of you like the alternative posed by the other, then look at the other alternatives. Find one that will satisfy both of you. Keep in mind that your goal is to create and maintain a healthy relationship, not just be able to say that you're "right". Being right all of the time will lead to a lonely life!
This does mean making compromises but it is important to prioritize things in your life. In a relationship this means asking yourself "Is getting my way this time more important than this relationship?" If it is then stand up for what you believe and be prepared to leave the relationship.
Finally, there are times when there are only two clear alternatives, and neither person will budge. The only way to use this is to work with it. Determine who "wins" this time with the understanding that for balance to be maintained, the other person will have to give in a future conflict.
Conflicts aren't fun and they can be challenging. Keep in mind that the way the conflict is being handled is what determines the health of the relationship. Talk with your partner about your different styles. Agree to make adjustments that will help the relationship stay whole. If the relationship is a priority for you both, then you both will put the energy you need to resolve any conflicts, learn, grow and move on together!
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