Maybe the first tip for using conflict resolution to defuse disagreements between you and your partner is to reframe what ‘conflict resolution’ means to you.

Many of us approach it like it’s chore; just another bit of the ‘work’ needed to keep a relationship strong. But who likes chores?

If we instead look at all the benefits we can get from agreeing on ways to help resolve conflicts in a relationship, then it might not seem so much like work, but a lot more like common sense.

Just think, if you found ways to just reduce the amount of friction that a disagreement can create, you both may be better off in so many ways; individually and together.

  1. Less Baggage – When an argument between partners isn’t fully resolved, it might never be resolved. It’s why many couples end up having the same disagreement over and over again.
    But with a deliberate effort towards resolution, there’s a greater chance that the issues will be dealt with at least to the extent that they won’t be repeated in the foreseeable future.
  2. Less Emotional and Physical Stress – You know what it can do to you and your partner when a conflict starts occupying your life. You may not be able to concentrate at work, you may feel anxious or depressed, and you may be more tired and irritable.
    So why not try to resolve the issue and potentially minimize the side effects?
  3. The First Step Towards a Stronger Relationship – Just imagine if you managed to deal with an issue a little better after trying one of the suggestions below or some other means of conflict resolution? It can prove to both partners that what they have in common is far stronger than their differences.

Couple talking it out

With all of that potential on the line, try one or more of the following suggestions the next time you and your partner are in disagreement.

  1. Agree to Disagree – Too often, when arguments erupt, couples will go straight to their opposing corners and come out ready to rumble. But, if at the outset they managed to recognize that there is a difference of opinion, and vocalize that to each other, then it can help put them into resolution mode instead of dispute mode.
  2. Use a Calm Voice – It can help keep you and your partner calm too. Yelling will probably do the opposite, which is make you and your partner angry. Anger can reduce your ability to think clearly and objectively, and your ability to solve the problem.
  3. Stick to the Point – Try to solve each dispute on its own. Each past dispute you bring up when discussing a new one can be a giant leap backwards, away from resolution. Definitely try to avoid speaking in absolutes, like “You always…!” or “You never…!”.
  4. Listen – You both have lots to say, so try to give each other the time to say it. Try also to listen at least as much as you speak.
  5. Look for Common Ground Instead of Staking Out Your Own Position – First,one or both of you may have made a mistake. If you have, make an effort to admit it. Work together to find a way forward instead of digging in where you are.

If you need help with conflict resolution in your relationship, please contact us here at BRCook Psychological Services and schedule an appointment.

Bruce R. Cook

Bruce R. Cook

I have been a practicing mental health professional for the past 26 years and I have worked in various public and private practice settings throughout the GTA and Ontario. The populations that I work with are adults 18-64 and I have extensive experience working with both individuals on various presenting problems, and also as a couples’ therapist.

I am a certified solution-focused therapist, and I integrate a number of theoretical orientations into my practice including cognitive-behavioural, humanistic, psychodynamic, reality focused therapy. In essence, my experience and style have been dynamically moved into an eclectic approach that best seems to fit the client and their personal needs.
Bruce R. Cook

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