8 Ways to Use Conflict Management and Keep Your Relationship Healthy

It’s not the absence of conflict that makes a relationship healthy, it’s the way you manage it. We shouldn’t view conflict as something that needs to be “fixed,” as it’s a normal part of any relationship. Instead, we should see it as a relational experience that needs to be handled appropriately. Allow your relationship to thrive by using these conflict management tools effectively:

  1. Focus on the problem, not the person

Couple Fighting and Learning Conflict ManagementInstead of attacking, criticizing or placing blame on your partner, fight fairly and focus on the issue at hand. Remember that while they play a role in the problem, they themselves are not the problem. When you focus on the problem instead of your partner, you can effectively manage conflict better while ensuring your relationship stays intact.


  1. Don’t make things bigger than they are

None of us is perfect, and we all make mistakes, but try not to make the small problems bigger than they need to be. If your partner leaves the milk out and it spoils, is that something worth nagging them over? Chances are, it was a mistake that your partner already feels badly about, so don’t make them feel worse. Your feelings of frustration are valid. However, these little frustrations add up and don’t need to be blown out of proportion.

  1. Utilize active listening

When you’re engaging in conflict management, don’t just lecture at your partner and vice versa. Listen to what they have to say and repeat it back to them to ensure the message is clear. You or your partner may think you’ve done an effective job of interpreting the problem, but they may have heard something completely different. When you practice active listening, there’s not a lot of room for misinterpretation.

  1. Set boundaries

Emotions are usually at their highest during times of conflict, but that doesn’t mean you and your partner don’t deserve to be treated with respect. If your partner displays unhealthy behaviors while you’re arguing, ask them to stop or tell them you’ll discuss the problem when you’re both in a calmer state. Prevent yourself from saying something you’ll regret by setting boundaries before and during conflict.

  1. Forgive and forget

Let’s face it, you and your partner won’t agree on EVERYTHING, and that’s okay. Each of us is different and holds different beliefs and values. Inevitably there will be things you disagree about. Drop the fight and agree to disagree in these instances.

  1. Be willing to accept responsibility

Your partner is probably just as frustrated with you as you are with them. Fully listen to what they have to say and accept the fact that you may have played a role in the conflict. Don’t play the victim or stay in denial – admit to the problem instead and apologize for the part you played.

  1. Don’t generalize behaviors

People have a tendency to stray away from the conflict at hand when they are arguing. They begin pulling from past experiences while making character generalizations. You’ve probably noticed that an argument about communication has started with “this is so typical of your behavior and that one time last month __________ happened.”  We venture into a dangerous conflict territory when we don’t focus on the present issue and harp on past experiences, .

  1. Treat your partner with respect

A lot gets lost in the midst of conflict so remember the golden rule: to treat others as you would want to be treated. Don’t cuss them out, call them names, roll your eyes, yell, etc. This is a surefire way to make your situation worse.

This brief attachment style quiz will help you understand your own attachment pattern and what implications it might have for your relationships.

Seek Outside Help

Conflict management can be tricky, especially if you and your partner are not used to solving your problems in an effective way. At Eddins Counseling Group we have specialists in couples and relationship counseling. Contact us in Houston, at 832-559-2622 or book an appointment online, if you’re in need of help with conflict management and resolution.

Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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