After being in a relationship for a while, you might start to experience more conflict than usual. This can often happen if you have taken your relationship to the next level, for example, by moving in together. Flipping out over small misunderstandings, overreacting, and generally feeling like you are unable to get on the same page about anything is more common than you might realize for many couples after the ‘honeymoon’ period has worn off.
In most cases, relationship conflict occurs when expectations aren’t being met. Everybody comes into a relationship with certain expectations that are based on a variety of factors, such as past experiences, their childhood, or simply how they think a relationship should be. The problem here is that no matter how much you have in common, no two people are going to think exactly the same. So, even if you tend to agree with your significant other most of the time, it’s not unusual to find some things that you feel differently about.
#1. Redefining Conflict:
A lot of couples see conflict as something to be concerned about, and some even see it as a time to bail. This could be because they are already looking for a way out of the relationship, or simply because they freak out due to feeling threatened. Since the fight or flight response is usually activated when our ego is threatened, it can become difficult to get a resolution on a conflict. Instead of viewing conflict as a threat to a relationship, view it as an opportunity for growth instead. When handled correctly, conflict can help you learn more about your partner and lead to a more harmonious relationship in the future.
#2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff:
One of the biggest mistakes that many couples make is turning every molehill into a mountain. While it can be easy to let everything get to you when you are already frustrated due to the conflict that you are experiencing with your partner, it’s best to try not to make something into a battle unless it is essential to you. Often, disagreements do not need to turn into an argument, and there is a lot that you and your partner can learn from each other by simply agreeing to disagree and listening to one another’s viewpoints on different topics.
#3. Lower Your Expectations:
While it’s important to have some expectations in a relationship, it’s best to keep in mind that both you and your partner may have different expectations when it comes to what a relationship should be like. Even if you have a lot in common, you may have both been brought up in very different circumstances and have opposite past experiences, causing you to have different ideas of how a relationship should be. Remember that having different expectations is not a bad thing, but it can cause arguments if you are not willing to listen to your partner and understand their side. Speaking about both of your expectations is essential; this gives both you and your partner the chance to understand more about what the other wants and come to an agreement that works well for you both.
#4. Work on Intimacy:
Becoming more intimate in your relationship can bring you closer together and make it easier for you to resolve conflict healthily. That’s not to say that getting physically close will stop all arguments because it will not, but making an effort to learn more about your partner intimately will make it easier for you both to communicate more clearly and open up to each other in different scenarios. In addition to working on your sexual intimacy, a great option when you need to work on things is to practice emotional intimacy, too. This can be difficult at first, but it’s an important step to take in a long-term relationship that will help you build trust and be together more harmoniously.
#5. Focus on Actions and Behaviors:
When a partner is behaving in a way that we do not like, it can be all too easy to get caught up with their characteristics. But personal attacks can be far more emotionally damaging to both the individual and relationship, compared to simply focusing on how their actions are making you feel. Instead of launching into an all-out attack on your partner’s personality, talk about their actions or behavior and how it made you feel. This way, you are more likely to get the response that you want, rather than them simply responding defensively and in anger.
#6. Clarify What They Mean:
Bear in mind that most of the time, any good partner will not mean to deliberately hurt you. But jumping to conclusions is something that causes a huge amount of conflict in relationships. Getting hurt could be a by-product of an action that your partner did not realize would affect you in this way. So, clarify what your partner means or was trying to achieve first – you may find that the situation is not as bad as you perceived it to be.
Arguments are nothing new to long-term relationships. How you handle them can be the difference between driving you apart or bringing you closer together.