The Power of Resolving Conflicts – Exploring the Joy Superpower of Conflict Resolution in Parter Relationships

“Every conflict we face in life is rich with positive and negative potential. It can be a source of inspiration, enlightenment, learning, transformation, and growth-or rage, fear, shame, entrapment, and resistance. The choice is not up to our opponents, but to us, and our willingness to face and work through them.” – Kenneth Cloke

The sex drive of my partner isn´t the same as it used to be. She can´t satisfy me anymore and I´m frustrated, how do I tell her? I´ll just wait and hope it will get better.”

“My work is stressing me so much, shouldn´t he know what´s bothering me? Shouldn´t he do something to make me feel better? Instead, he goes out for a beer with his friends, classic. He is terrible. I deserve better.”

“Why should I put your interests before mine and give up my needs if you won´t do it either? You don´t care about what I want”.

Does any of this sound familiar in your relationship? When we are in a relationship, we naturally want to feel connected to each other. However, once we happen to be in conflict, we always feel disconnection. So, how do we stay connected when there is a disconnect? It´s not that easy, is it?

Conflict – a good or a bad thing?

Generally, relationships take work, commitment and willingness to adapt to change with your partner. Experiencing a conflict with your partner is not necessarily a bad thing! Lulofs & Cahn (2000) argue that conflict is an inevitable part of everyone’s life, and that is even more true for those who live together in dating, intimate, and marital relationships. In fact, members of the relationship have the tendency to influence one another, and as a result, the increased interdependence can lead to disagreement and conflict regarding competing goals and self-interests that can directly affect both partners’ wellbeing (Baker, L. R., & McNulty, J. K., 2020). Don´t worry, conflicts are a very common and natural part of all our lives as they arise due to our different personalities, ideas, perceptions, motivations, and desires that a person has which do not match those of another person.

Christensen and Walczynski (1997) explain that in a well-established relationship, conflict is the most important factor affecting satisfaction in the relationship.

By fighting, you can either gain a better understanding of your partner and arrive at a solution that works for both of you, or it can quickly escalate and turn into a disaster without resolving anything. Knowing how to handle a conflict is a critical skill to learn, helping you increase confidence and self-awareness.

Choosing your strategy

There are steps, tools, and techniques to build gratifying, healthy, and happy relationships that will fulfill individuals and if handled with love, care, maturity and understanding, they make life truly beautiful. Communication is crucial in managing conflicts and resolution. There are constructive strategies to resolve conflict, such as agreement and compromise, and destructive strategies, such as conflict engagement, withdrawal, and defensiveness. (Baker, L. R., & McNulty, J. K., 2020).

• Be aware of yourself, of the situation and stories you create in your head before talking to your partner! If you create a pattern in your story where you are a victim all the time, that will influence how you are handling the conflict. Also, the content of the conversation is not as important as the timing of it.

• Be direct and fully address the issue that bothers you without anger and without blaming your partner. This will give your partner guidance about what they can do to solve the problem. Always keep in mind that you are trying to resolve the problem, not fight. If your partner starts using destructive strategies and invites you to become defensive, remind him before it shuts down further conversation.

• In return, listen to your partner and rephrase it with your own words as this prevents misunderstandings before they even start. Together, assess both of your sensitivities. What is the other person doing well? What I am doing well? What do I want more of in order be happy?

• Don´t get immediately defensive and object to your partner’s complaints. What´s more important, don’t respond to your partner´s complaint with one of your own.

• Avoid contempt for your partner. Gottman, J. (1994) found out that it is the most common predictor for divorce. Rolling your eyes, using sarcasm or name-calling is extremely disrespectful and only shows disgust in your partner.

So, it´s not always about the cause of the conflict but more about knowing the person, understanding why the person feels the way they do about the thing they are asking for, and, in the end, the benefit of conflict is that it forces you to grow together as a couple.

What are your experiences with trying to resolve conflict with your partner? Tell us your story down below or share it on social media using the hashtag #joysuperpowers !

If you want to hear more about the most effective ways of reaching a common solution in your relationship conflict from a professional perspective, stay tuned for this week’s Joy Superpowers episode featuring relationship coach and mentor Daman Philip.

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