Can conflict be a sign of a HEALTHY relationship?

Great news! Every relationship reaches a difficult stage after the early romance ends. Just think about country songs – countless songs have been written about BOTH the romantic stage and the conflict stage. It’s unavoidable AND couples therapists consider it a given, even in strong, healthy marriages. Why? First, it’s normal because the two of you came from different families, different households, maybe different cultures or religious upbringings so you’re going to have disputes. Second, talking about these conflicts is good because the way we get through things is by addressing them, not by avoiding them. This is why couples therapists become concerned when people in long-term relationships say they don’t have any conflict. We wonder what they may be side-stepping (and constant avoidance leads to distance in the marriage).

Of course, if addressing conflicts means you and your partner end in a screaming match or the silent treatment or passive-aggressive behavior, that doesn’t count as healthy conflict.

So, what is HEALTHY conflict? It includes:

  • acknowledging your partner’s worldviews, emotions, and thoughts being curious about the other’s perspective without passing judgment
  • being able to recognize that, in many areas, your partner’s view IS GOING TO BE different from yours
  • practice conscious awareness by wondering about your own reactivity and internal experience, then making changes in yourself where needed, and the most advanced couples skill:
  • accepting your partner as different from you.

After a couple goes through these steps and communicates calmly about all this, the result will be a feeling of closeness and deeper intimacy. From this position of increased partnership, a solution on differences will become apparent.

If you and your partner have been struggling to find a healthy way to talk through your differences don’t wait any longer. Contact us at 908-246-3074, EXT 1 or email us at Help is just one phone call/email away.

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