How to Handle Conflict with a Partner

I don’t know a single person who relishes the idea of dealing with conflict, whether with family, at work, or with a romantic partner. Sadly, there is no avoiding it, and when we face problems with those we love. We never want to intentionally hurt those we care for, but keeping things to ourselves never works, and can make a small issue blow up into something much bigger.

It helps to remember that all feelings are valid despite the “bad” label that some emotions get such as jealousy, anger, frustration, and shame. And these are common feelings that arise in conflicts with lovers, but when worked on will help build a strong foundation of trust – a must for a successful relationship, long or short-term.

“You can’t say something wrong to the right person”

Tips to Help You Handle Conflict with a Partner

Choose an Appropriate Time
When your lover is upset about work or his ex is making demands, it might not be the best time to bring up something that has been bothering you. Choose a time when outside problems aren’t at the forefront and when you are at home or in a relaxing environment.

Talk as Soon as Possible
Even though you want to choose a good time to discuss your feelings, waiting too long is never a good idea. This happens to many people who have difficulty expressing feelings, and what often happens is, that molehill becomes a mountain.

Stay on Point
Recognize your feelings to express them clearly and stick to the facts when approaching your lover. Sometimes it helps to rehearse ahead of time what you want and need to say. When you say how you feel, tell your partner the level of feeling and how long you have been experiencing it. If there was an event that was the impetus for your feeling, share that too.

Use “I” Statements
Beginning sentences with “I feel (insert feeling) when you…” will not make your partner feel that they are being attacked or shamed. You also won’t be making judgements or assumptions about what they are thinking or feeling. Also, avoid the word “should” when working on issues. Nobody likes being told what they “should” do or “should” be like.

Focus on Behavior
People don’t change their personality or core values, so when you want to discuss something that has been bothering you, focus on the particular behavior that has you feeling upset, irritated, sad, etc. For example, instead of saying, “You don’t think about my feelings when you spend time with your ex-wife,” try: “I feel hurt when you spend time with your ex without telling me first.”

Like most things in life, conflict resolution and talking about our feelings becomes easier with practice. Something to remember: if it wasn’t so difficult, it would mean you didn’t care so much.

Do you find expressing your feelings or conflict resolution in relationships difficult?

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