Conflict resolution

Conflict exists in all relationships. By conflict, we specifically mean verbal disagreements and arguments. People disagree sometimes, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing — you have the right to have a different opinion from your partner(s). What’s important is that you communicate effectively and in a healthy way that allows you to understand each other better and make your relationship stronger.

Resolving arguments in a healthy way

While conflict is normal, it can also bring out the parts of your relationship that aren’t working. If your conflict is based on decisions like which movie to see, who to hang out with, or who should do the dishes, use these tips to help resolve arguments in a healthy way:

Establish boundaries

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, even during an argument. If your partner swears at you, calls you names, or ridicules you, tell them to stop. If they don’t, walk away and tell you that you don’t want to continue arguing right now.

Find the real issue

Arguments tend to happen when one partner’s wants or needs aren’t being met. Try to get to the real issue behind your argument. It’s possible that you or your partner are feeling insecure or like you aren’t being treated respectfully, and are expressing those feelings through arguments over other things. Learn to talk about the real issue so you can avoid constant fighting that obscures the heart of the problem.

Agree to disagree

If you and your partner can’t resolve an issue, sometimes it’s best to just drop it. You can’t agree on everything and it’s important to focus on what matters. If the issue is too important to drop and you can’t agree to disagree, it may be a sign that you’re not compatible.

Compromise when possible

Compromise is a major part of conflict resolution and any successful relationship, but it can be hard to actually achieve. Take turns making decisions about things like what to eat for dinner, or find a middle ground that allows you both to feel satisfied with the outcome.

Consider it all

If the issue you’re arguing over changes how you feel about each other or forces you to compromise your beliefs or morals, it’s important that you stress your position. If not, consider your partner’s views on the issue, why they’re upset, and if compromise is appropriate. Try to contextualize your arguments to give each other room to express your feelings.

Conflict resolution in unhealthy relationships

Conflict is normal, but your arguments shouldn’t turn into personal attacks or efforts to lower the other’s self-esteem. If you can’t express yourself without fear of retaliation, you may be experiencing abuse. Learn more about identifying the signs of abuse and get help.

A common sign of abuse in a relationship is a partner who tries to control or manipulate you.

Some of the common, unjustified reasons abusive partners give for their attempts at power and control include:

  • You choose to spend time with others or doing an activity instead of spending time with them.
  • They checked your phone and disapprove of your texts or calls.
  • They think you’re cheating or untrustworthy.
  • You’re not ready to have sex.
  • You’re trying to study or work when they want your attention.

If your arguments stem from issues like these, we encourage you to take our healthy relationships quiz to find out more about the dynamics of healthy relationships.

How healthy is your relationship?

Take the quiz

Is your relationship healthy?