How to Deal with Relationship Conflict Constructively

Dr. Gottman who is a renowned researcher in the field of relationships and has written books including " The Relationship Cure" from which I have extracted material for this article suggested:-

1. Accept that you might not resolve disagreements.

Dr. Gottman found that most conflicts in relationships aren’t resolved. Instead, 70% of marital conflicts are perpetual. There are inherent tensions in so much of life and relationships. So its useful to face the fact that the tough issues with our loved ones won’t go away…so we might as well find more constructive ways of addressing them. The goal is to understand where your partner is coming from.

2. Conflict is not a bad thing

But Gottman’s research indicates that conflicts between couples most likely to divorce are actually characterised by something far more insidious than emotion: a lack thereof.

Emotional withdrawal is one of the most significant predictors of a failed relationship. The bottom line here is that even amidst conflict, expressions of emotion can actually be healthy – the key is to channel them in such a way as to not derail the entire conversation.

3. Relationships run on resiliency.

One of Gottman’s key findings as that regardless of how much they argued, successful relationships were characterised by an ability to rebound from conflict to a positive conversation, creating a shared foundation of “emotional regulation.”


 Remember to take a break and regroup!

 The reality is that relationships are in constant states of growth, conflict, and repair.

Conflict comes from a place of deep care, so the relationships that last aren’t conflict-free; they’re conflict-aware.

Fights happen, and should. 

Resolution isn’t the goal…resiliency is.


How skilled are you at handling conflict in your relationships?

Are you conflict phobic? OR alternatively, do you enjoy conflict a little too much?

How good are you at emotional regulation?

Have you got a high EQ, or is there room for improvement?

It has only been recently that I have realised that possibly one of the main reasons that my longstanding marriage fell apart, was because both my husband and myself, hated conflict and avoided it at all costs.

Neither were willing or able to state our needs until too much hurt and resentment had poisoned the relationship to such a state that we both withdrew emotionally. We both lost perspective, drastically lowering our Emotional Intelligence when relating to one another.

It is a pity we did not learn assertion and conflict management skills many years ago - because it may have saved our marriage. And I have had to start learning them anyway - as I have realized that we need the skills in all our relationships whether in our professional or private lives. Better late than never! 



GOTTMAN: The Relationship Cure

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