With the physical and emotional closeness of a partnership, it is inevitable that there is sometimes conflict. It can be a sign that something is wrong or that someone is unhappy. Avoiding conflict or ignoring the problems could mean that you are choosing to avoid talking through important issues or exploring the underlying reasons for the conflict.
It’s important to recognise the ways in which you are different from each other and consider how you can make room for this in your relationship.
Conflict creates frustration and anger
Frustration and anger are feelings that often accompany conflict situations. When you feel frustrated or angry:
- You might express your feelings through a physical or verbal outburst. This might make you feel better at first, but you will probably feel guilty later. This can damage the relationship, especially if your partner is afraid of your anger. Acknowledge when you have gone too far and upset your partner.
- You might deny your anger. Ignoring anger from conflict means ignoring the signs that something is wrong in the relationship. This may solve the problem for a while, but it can create greater problems in the future.
- Anger can be healthy when expressed in non-destructive ways.
- Try to acknowledge your anger (without trying to hurt the other person either emotionally or physically). This is the most constructive response to anger and is more likely to lead to a positive resolution.
- Try to remember that physical or emotional outbursts are abusive behaviour and not acceptable. If you are experiencing abuse in your relationship, seek help. Family violence interventions include services to help with violence or abuse issues in relationships, including counselling for couples at risk of violence, assistance to secure the safety of victims of family violence, and therapy for those who use abuse and violence. Services include:
Work through the issues
When you choose to acknowledge your feelings, you can then take steps to resolve the problem as quickly and calmly as possible:
- Admit that you are angry and let your partner know how you feel by bringing the problem out into the open (without trying to hurt them).
- Give yourself or your partner ‘cooling off’ time if you feel that you or they are too angry to talk about the problem. Remember to come back to the issue later and try to sort things out.
- Explore your true feelings. Conflict is usually the end result of a build-up of underlying feelings and unresolved issues.
- Listen to your partner’s point of view. There are two sides to every story.
- Acknowledge and take responsibility for your part in the problem.
- Reflect together on what you can learn from conflict. This helps to strengthen your relationship and lessen the chances of a similar conflict happening again.
- When you have resolved the conflict, be prepared to forgive and make up with your partner. Let them know that you are ready to put it behind you and move on. Often this can lead to a deepening of understanding and intimacy in a relationship.
Note: The suggestions in this section are not intended for people experiencing family violence. If you are living with family violence, seek help. You have the right to be safe. Read more about family violence services in Victoria.
Where to get help
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Relationships Australia Victoria
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