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  • alicoopertherapy

Relationship Conflict

There are many different types of relationships.

· Friendships

· Co-workers

· Dating

· Significant other

· Marriage

· Mentor/mentee

· Parent-child

· Sibling

Relationships are fundamental to human connection and societal functioning. They can be fun, exciting, and rewarding. They can also cause tension and be difficult to navigate. What happens in a relationship when communication breaks down, or stressors come out sideways? Often this can end up in a fight. Maybe it’s verbal, maybe it escalates into a physical fight. Sometimes words are said that cannot be taken back. Even if you are saying them in the heat of the moment and you don’t really mean them, it can still be damaging to the relationship. What are some healthy ways to deal with a conflict in a relationship?

During a conflict, it’s important to separate the problem from the person. If you are noticing you are starting to say things you don’t really mean, it’s time to take a break. The conflict has shifted from the problem at hand to an attack on the other person. When things get heated like this, trying to find a resolution will be difficult. Take a break and come back together when things are calmer.

Using “I feel” statements can be helpful during a conflict. Using an “I feel” statement shifts the conversation to how you are feeling about something rather than blaming the other person for what they are doing. For instance, “I feel frustrated when dishes are left in the sink overnight” versus “You never put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher.” Changing the way you are speaking about a situation and expressing how you feel can keep the conflict from escalating and causing the other person to become defensive.

When there is a conflict, working towards a solution is important. If you have a reoccurring argument about something that is going on at work, a task that needs to be completed, or something at home with your spouse, ignoring the problem won’t help. It will continue the cycle of conflict. Sometimes finding a solution means being able to compromise with each other. Listening to the needs of the other person, and expressing your own needs is a good place to start. It is important to not place blame and be able to understand where the other person is coming from. Coming up with a solution together can put an end to the conflict and strengthen the relationship.

-Ali Cooper

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