How Avoiding Conflict Can Become a Real Relationship Problem
We’re conditioned to see arguing as a very bad relationship sign. On top of that, many of us can have problems setting boundaries with a loved one. The most common negative side effect of these realities is avoiding conflict. This is not to say we should seek conflict. Rather, we must not ignore the underlying concerns and issues that create conflict.
It may seem healthy and compassionate to choose “peace” as your default setting. However, without risking conflict, our relationships often become a ticking time bomb.
Our Conflict Background
Each of us has a unique history which can help shape how we deal with (or not deal with) conflict. For example, if our parents and/or siblings were aggressive or bullying, we may have learned to maintain distance. In other cases, the distance may not have been our choice. Parents who were emotionally absent can lead to children who will isolate themselves in times of duress. Therefore, it’s not “wrong” to discover such a pattern in yourself. But it is important to address it from many angles.
Positive Ways to Avoid Conflict in a Relationship
- Take a breath before talking: Your first impression may or may not be your true impression. Regardless, take a breath. Check yourself and your tone before speaking up.
- Listen to your partner: Ask questions, seek out evidence that may disprove your “point,” and try putting yourself in her shoes.
- Don’t see “winning” as the only goal or resolution: Relationship conflict is not about convincing but rather, it’s about learning. Each disagreement provides us with a chance to learn something new—in general—but also learn something new about our spouse.
4 Ways Avoiding Conflict Can Become a Relationship Problem
1. Problems Simmer in Silence
Most issues are easier resolved in their early stages. On some level, we all know this. Yet, how often do we choose to dodge and evade instead of confronting head-on? Each day—each hour—that passes, the problems fester more. After a while, our unspoken anger may be more about the lack of resolution than the actual problem itself.
2. Anger and Resentment Appear in Other Contexts
If we’re not voicing discomfort about a specific problem, that anger doesn’t disappear. Where it chooses to re-appear may vary—as will how it chooses to re-appear. For some of us, it could mean ugly yelling as an overreaction to a minor issue. For others, it may be passive-aggressive manipulations.
3. It Impacts Your Intimacy
If you and your partner are avoiding conflict, over time, it impacts our connection in many ways. Intimacy is much, much more than lust and arousal. It begins in many subtle ways. When we have unresolved differences lurking just beneath the surface, we’re more likely to miss each other’s cues. Sometimes, we’ll miss them on purpose.
4. You Create a False Perception of Your Compatibility
Perhaps your friends and family marvel at you. You’re the perfect couple, the duo that never fights. Avoiding conflict is not the same as “never fighting” and it can skew our perception of how things are going for us as a team.
Do You Need a “Referee”?
The longer a relationship, the deeper a pattern can become. We may choose to avoid conflict without even thinking. Then, if our partner tries to move beyond that pattern, we may respond with confusion and anger. This is where couples counseling is crucial. Your therapist serves as a guide, a mediator, and perhaps even a referee of sorts.
At Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, you and your partner can learn to recognize patterns and triggers with help from a therapist specializing in relationship counseling. From there, it may become easier to accept the inevitability of conflict and develop productive methods to resolve it as a team. Contact us at 832-559-2622 for more information or book an appointment online.
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