Accepting Therapy

Why Conflict Can Be Good and How to Have a Healthy Argument – Accepting Therapy

By: Grace Gufler

 

Conflict is a word with many negative associations. In fact, many of us believe that conflict in any relationship (romantic or not) is representative of opposition and a warning of future friction. In other words, we maintain the belief that a successful relationship is one that is free of conflict and, as a result, we learn to avoid it. In this blog post, you will learn why conflict can actually be helpful, instead of harmful, in relationships. 

Did you know that conflict can actually strengthen relationships? Conflict is an opportunity to learn more about another person. Most arguments are caused by what the object/situation/etc. represents for someone, a previous experience, an insecurity, or a personal belief. By approaching conflict with an open mind and incorporating some helpful communication skills, you will be able to successfully identify the underlying trigger of the argument and, as a result, gain a deeper understanding of the person.

How Can I Have Healthy Arguments?

I believe that people struggle with having effective and healthy arguments due to a lack of knowledge. In my experience, even the word ‘argument’ triggers a negative reaction. This reaction, and our attitude about conflict, is a contributing factor to the inability to have a healthy argument. Here are some ways to achieve this:

  1. Check in With Yourself: in the heat of an argument, it can be very hard to have an effective conversation. If you need some time to calm down and collect your thoughts, communicate this with your partner and set a time to discuss it with them later. Before approaching the conversation, make sure you are in the right emotional state.
  2. Use I-Statements: arguments escalate quickly when someone feels personally attacked or wrongly blamed. To avoid this, make sure to use I-statements in your conversation. For example: I feel hurt when I am not consulted with about money decisions. In the future, I would appreciate if we could make decisions involving money together. An I-statement should contain your feelings, the behavior, and the impact of the behavior.
  3. Set Rules: set rules with your partner ahead of time. These rules can help alleviate some of your worries about conflict and prevent some of the difficulties you and your partner have in arguments. For example, if you and your partner tend to interrupt each other during arguments, use an object or hand gesture to signify that you are done talking and it is now the other person’s turn.
  4. Paraphrase: this is an especially helpful exercise for couples who frequently misunderstand each other. Throughout the conversation, paraphrase your understanding of what your partner has said to check-in.  After your partner has confirmed that you have a clear understanding of their perspective, then it is your turn to share your view point. This will help slow the argument down, prevent it from escalating, and improve your understanding of each other.

I hope this blog post helps you approach conflict with more openness and improve your conflict resolution skills. Conflict is an opportunity for a deeper and richer understanding of someone. Conflict is a realistic part of every relationship and an opportunity to learn about another person’s experiences and perspectives.