Every couple has disagreements. Not every couple faces up to them. Many unhappy couples turn them into ugly arguments. Simply put, conflict is inescapable and normal in any relationship. The trick lies in handling this inevitability in a healthy way with Couples Counseling.
Do happy couples have this figured out? Short answer: More often than not.
A more nuanced reply would factor in the reality that conflict resolution is not a destination. It’s a marathon with a finish line. You and your partner pledge to continually work on this flexible skill. So yeah, happy couples have figured out a couple of things. Accept the unavoidable presence of conflict and work together to manage it.
What Causes Conflict For Couples?
Of course, the variations are endless but here are some common trends:
Work and Money
- One partner may work “too many” or “too little” hours
- Earning discrepancies
- Different financial styles
- Economic issues causing stress
Family (children, in-laws, etc.)
- Interference from extended family
- Different parenting styles
- Not being available for each other
- One partner takes on too many outside commitments and responsibilities
- Different sexual styles
- Loss of intimacy
How Unhappy Couples Handle Conflict
Yet again, specifics will vary from couple to couple. Even so, universal behaviors exist, e.g.
- Avoidance: One or both partners chooses to avoid conflict — “go along to get along” — while problems are left to simmer and grow
- Aggression: Screaming, establishing dominance, intimidation, physical threats
- Passive-Aggression: Appearing happy on the surface but acting out one’s angry feelings in a subtle or indirect manner
- Stonewalling: One partner shuts down and refuses to engage.
8 Ways Happy Couples Handle Conflict
1. Prioritize Conflict Resolution
Happy couples do not put off tough conversations. They understand the importance of moving quickly into a state of repair. Thus, this may mean literally making an appointment to talk things out. Healthy relationships involve a willingness to talk about what’s happening.
2. Fight Fair
Focus on the issue at hand. Don’t bring up every slight or insult you’ve ever faced. No name-calling or personal attacks
3. Accept Your Role in the Conflict
There are no relationship scorecards. You don’t have tally up percentages of blame. But you must acknowledge and address your role in whatever problem being discussed.
4. Listen. Really Listen.
No distractions. Power down your devices. Check your body language and be fully present. Not only should you respect and value your partner’s point of view, but you should also be ready to learn from it.
5. Speak Directly and Clearly
Even if you’re soul mates, you cannot read each other’s minds. Be specific about what you need, framing it with possible solutions. Also, take care to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements.
6. Remain Open to Learning to Growing
Every conflict carries with it some lessons. Rather than competing or trying to “win,” embrace these opportunities to grow together.
7. Don’t Get Too Comfortable With Any Single Approach
As stated above, conflict resolution is an evolving process. What works today may need some refining tomorrow. Commit to the daily work and reap the rewards.
8. Happy Endings
Kiss and make up (literally or figuratively). Remind each other of your love and bond, once all is said and done. Express gratitude. Thank each other for listening and sharing and working together to keep your relationship happy and healthy.
Seek Help to Get Happier
Finally, one other common thread amongst happy couples is a willingness to ask for help. Couples counseling may be the ideal training ground upon which you can practice your conflict resolution techniques. Under the guidance of an experienced and unbiased therapist, both of you will have a chance to hone your communication skills. Please read more information about our couples counseling services and contact us soon. We would love to help you along with this important process.
Getting Started With Couples Counseling in Lakewood & Longmont Colorado
We invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation. You can schedule your appointment via phone, email, or the contact page on our website. We offer both in-person and online counseling. We’re open to whichever option you feel more comfortable with. We look forward to hearing from you!