Many people think that a good relationship has no conflict and that if they argue with their partner than there is something wrong with it, but in fact conflict is an important part of any relationship! Moreover, it’s unavoidable – since any two people have different backgrounds, opinions and preferences, when you put them together for a while they will get into conflict. Learning how to navigate conflict will help you feel much closer to your partner because you learn about what’s really important for them. if you don’t know how to resolve conflict than over time you will either argue a lot or not discuss important issues, and will end up feeling disconnected or even resentful.
It’s not about the dishes…
If you are having issues with your partner that you are unable to resolve or if you are having arguments over small daily stuff but those arguments are bringing up a lot of emotions, than that means that something else is fueling the conflict. A conflict is actually like an iceberg, there is a small part of it that is above water and is visible, and then there is the bigger part of it that lies hidden underneath the water. What lies underneath the water are feelings and needs that most of the time are not being expressed and sometimes we are not even aware of. For example, let’s say that your partner is upset about the fact that you didn’t do the dishes like you promised. If that conversation doesn’t end quite quickly and easily it means that there’s something else they are trying to tell you. Maybe they feel hurt that you didn’t respond to their needs and what they really need from you is reassurance that you are on their side, that they can count on you, but they don’t ask for it or express that. The result is that you are not dealing with the real issues, and so the conflict doesn’t get resolved and you don’t learn about their real needs.
How to discover the real issues
If you want to discover and address the real issues next time that you are in a conflict with your partner try to stop for a moment and ask them: What are you really feeling right now? Why is it so important for you if I do this or if I don’t do that? Also stop and ask yourself – why am I upset right now? What am I really feeling? Why does it bother me so much if my partner does something that I don’t like? What about it makes me so upset? Once you discovered that, have the conversation about those real issues that are underneath the surface.