All couples have conflicts; some are immediately solvable, and some will go the distance in the relationship. A lot of research has been done on couple conflict, and one of the fascinating outcomes is the fact that all couples have 3-4 chronic conflicts that remain throughout the length of their relationship. This means that it is perfectly normal to be in a relationship with unsolvable problems and disagreements.
Are you breathing a sigh of relief?
So often couples believe that the presence of conflicts, particularly unsolvable ones, means that there is a fundamental problem with the overall relationship. Couples may think, “We are just not the right match,” when the truth is that you are going to find sustainable conflict in any relationship you have with anyone.
Really, at the end of the day, it is what you believe about conflict that is going to cause you the most discomfort.
If you see conflict as threatening, then any presence in your relationship will be bad; if you see conflict as just a difference of opinion or different ways of seeing the world, then it can be much more manageable.
Dr. John Gottman has been observing how couples navigate their differences for decades in his Love Lab. From extensive studies, he has concluded that there are primary conflict styles that partners use with one another. When partners use the same style, fighting can be easier, but more often partners have different styles, which create difficulties.
In my office, I have seen many couples that experience unneeded frustration as they spend their disagreements fighting about their different approach to conflict instead of resolving the real issue at hand. Once they understood their styles, it forever changed how they managed conflict.
By taking the quiz below you and your partner can learn your preferred conflict styles and how it affects disagreements in your relationship.
Do you fight the same or different?
How can you fight more efficiently now that you are aware of your differences?
This insight alone can make a positive change in your relationship!
Until we meet again—Love each other well,
You can learn more about conflict styles and how to manage conflict successfully in your relationship by reading Chapter 4 of Relationship Reset.