Conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship. Of course, we know that two people can’t be expected to agree on everything, all the time.
But learning how to deal with conflict – rather than avoiding it – is crucial.
When conflict is not managed well, it can cause a lot of harm to a relationship, but when handled in a respectful, positive way, conflict provides an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and build trust between two people.
Conflict arises from differences, both large and small. It occurs whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions, ideas or desires. Sometimes these differences may seem trivial, but when a conflict triggers strong feelings, there is often a deep personal need at the root of it. It could be the need to feel safe & secure, a need to feel respected and valued or a need for greater closeness and intimacy.
So, how do you handle conflict? Do you fear it and avoid it at all costs?
Do you explode, get angry, hurtful or resentful, or do you withdraw love and isolate yourself?
Sometimes unhealthy responses can be due to early life experiences that may have left you feeling out of control or powerless. Or it may come from previous unhealthy relationships that have ended badly. Either way, understanding yourself and the safety mechanisms that you use can be an important exercise that can lead to developing new and more productive ways to be more successful in this area.
Here are some healthy responses towards conflict:
-Recognizing and responding to the things that matter to the other person
-Working to seek compromise whilst avoiding punishing
-A readiness to forgive and forget, and to move past the conflict without holding resentments or anger
-A belief that facing conflict head on is the best thing for both sides