Conflict in relationships is inevitable: Be specific

Avoid generalisations such as “You always forget our plans,” or “You never listen to me!” Focus on a specific behavior or action and how it affects you.

You can try to avoid conflict by tamping down negative emotions and brushing seemingly minor issues under the rug, but at some point, they will come back to bite you. Many times this is in the form of a blowup that is completely disproportional to whatever seemed to trigger it. You end up fighting not only about the topic at hand but ten other previously unaddressed issues as well.

As uncomfortable as it can be, the best way to avoid this situation and grow as a couple is to deal with issues as they occur. Studies have shown that it is not whether a couple fights that predicts divorce, but how they fight.

Here are some tips for fighting respectfully and making an argument an opportunity for growth and resolution:

3. Be specific. If we focus on a specific behavior or action and how it affects us, we then have a chance for resolution and growth. Listen and speak in a way that does not engender defensiveness but instead fosters healthy discussion. "Praise and admiration" are the best weapons to keep negative thoughts at bay. 

Empathise: Realise that your partners anger might be an effort to get your attention. Adopt a receptive body posture and an open facial expression. Limit yourself to a specific complaint rather than a multitude of criticisms. 

Try these approaches:

  • "Say how you feel."
  • "Don't criticize your partners personality."
  • "Don't insult, mock or use sarcasm."
  • "Be direct."
  • "Don't mind-read."

You might be surprised by the increased sense of connection and intimacy in your relationship after working through an issue by “fighting fair”. Conflict can be constructive!

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills. 

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich

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