Derrick Byrd, LMSW
4 Tips for Reducing Repeated Conflict in Your Relationship
Updated: May 9
You know that heated argument that comes up and sends you and your partner arguing in circles for copious amounts of time? The one that seems to come up again and again in your relationship when you thought it was resolved? I’m talking about the one where one of you ends up saying, “I’m not dealing with this right now,” and storms out of the room, while the other desperately tries to get their partner to engage in conversation and settle things. Those arguments, or disagreements, as some would rather call them, can be tough for both partners because of a significant difference in how each partner prefers to handle conflict.
If this seems familiar, you aren’t alone. This difference in handling conflict sparks up tension in many couples. One person might be fuming because the other will not finish the conversation and the other cannot understand why the other will not leave them alone because they have reached their limit in the conversation. No matter which characteristics you identify with in your relationship, the tips below may help extinguish some of the tension.
1. Appreciate your differences. The first tip for getting out of those ruts is to appreciate the differences between you. One of you may find security in being together - you enjoy solving problems and talking about issues as a unit. The other one of you may find more comfort in solitude where you can think clearly and have some time of reflection. Neither of these is right or wrong, they’re just different.
2. Designate a time to talk about difficult subjects. When you notice things are getting heated and you feel the issues are not getting resolved in one night, set a date and time to discuss the topics again. Keep in mind this is not a way to avoid confrontation or difficult subjects. This simply creates a window of opportunity for productive communication moving forward.
3. Respect the needs of your partner. If you are the one that wants to resolve things right away, respect that your partner may need some space. If you are the one that needs space, respect your partner by offering time to talk once you have collected yourself. Another way to show you are still invested is being the one to initiate another time to talk if you are still processing things.
4. Give room for grace. As a couple each of you come from different backgrounds, you have different upbringings, and different ways of handling conflict. Even if you have been together for a significant number of years, there are things you are continually learning about one another. Give grace for the learning. Your partner may not pick up new skills overnight and that is okay. New patterns of working together take time. Acknowledge and celebrate the progress and re-commit to moving forward together.
As we move through the summer months, relationship conflict can get pretty heated as the temperature outside rises. I don’t know if you have ever worked in hot kitchens with multiple people, but things escalate fast. The physical temperature sparks the frustration and irritations in us and can sometimes get the best of us. However, in your relationship there are some new dances you can learn to help you withstand the heat. As you are designating time to discuss the hard things, respecting your differences, and giving room for grace; you may also be giving room for some other sensually spicy dances to take place in your relationship, if you know what I mean.