Anyone who has been in a close relationship knows that conflicts can arise. Having misunderstandings are almost inevitable when two people from different backgrounds and with different personalities spend a lot of time together. The conflicts can appear to be big or small, depending on which side you are looking from, but if left unresolved, these conflicts can be harmful to the relationship.

They can grow and fester over time until they become so blown out of proportion that they may never be ‘fixed.’

The true test of a lasting relationship is how the couple can handle conflicts when they arise. A healthy and thriving relationship is not entirely free from conflicts, and couples can actually use conflicts to their advantage. Conflicts can help them resolve situations together, and grow together through the process, not apart.

There are healthy ways in which couples can resolve conflicts and ultimately save and improve their relationship. Here are some steps you can take to help you settle both petty squabbles and huge disagreements:

Avoid Passive Aggression, Instead, Be Direct

Some people don’t like to confront others about what is bothering them, so instead, they resort to making their partner indirectly feel their frustration. This behavior is called passive-aggressiveness.

Examples of being passive-aggressive include avoiding discussions, not being direct in communication, or even showing hostility towards the other person. All these actions do not help solve a conflict situation as they are not directly addressing the problem, and therefore make the other person unable to respond appropriately.

Passive-aggressiveness may even lead to bigger conflicts in the future when resentment grows too.

One way to resolve this is to simply be direct in communicating what is upsetting you. Use clear words and communicate calmly. Avoid blaming the other person, but rather, focus on the solution, not the problem.

Listen To Understand

Whenever we are in the heat of an argument or misunderstanding, it is natural to feel attacked and become defensive. This is usually because we are not ‘listening.’ Instead, we are waiting for our turn to respond, and often in attack mode. To avoid an argument becoming a full-blown battle, listen to your partner first. Listen so that you can fully understand the situation as they see it.

Avoid interrupting them which may lead them to feel that they are not being heard. Understand where they are coming from, and reassure them that you want to listen to what they have to say so that you can understand their feelings.

Communicate How You Feel

When in the middle of an argument, it feels natural to retaliate, after all, you are hurting too. However, if you do it will not solve the conflict, and will simply make the other person more defensive about their actions.

One technique to avoid conflicts is to focus on how you feel. In other words, instead of focusing on them, focus on you, by saying, ‘I’ instead of ‘you.’ For example, don’t say things like, ‘You are being irrational.’ This can put the other person in full defense mode.

Try saying, ‘I feel annoyed or hurt.’ This is called the ‘I Statement,’ which focuses on how the speaker is feeling about the behavior rather than blaming or getting angry at the other person.

Avoid Generalizations or Sweeping Statements

The words ‘always’ and ‘never’ are two words that can turn a minor misunderstanding into a real conflict or battle of wits. Whenever you are in a discussion with your partner, avoid using generalizing terms such as always and never.

This is because you will make them feel attacked and become more defensive. Instead of listening to legitimate concerns and focusing on the solution, they will try very hard to prove your generalization is wrong. You may end up being in a bigger argument than when it all started.

Cool Down and Wait For the Right Time

Many people believe that resolving conflicts before going to bed is a good practice between couples. This is certainly a good habit to get into, however, there may be some situations where this may not work. For example, if both of you are too emotionally charged to listen to each other.

If both you and your partner are both too emotional to respond rationally, then it is best to let the situation cool down first before having a heart-to-heart talk. Waiting it out gives you both time to clear your thoughts and compose yourselves before you have a good sit-down discussion with each other.

Resolving Conflicts Saves Relationships

One way to help the relationship grow is by resolving conflicts. Mature relationships use conflicts as learning opportunities. When you resolve conflicts with your partner, you actually learn a lot more about the other person and yourself. As long as you are both willing to listen and open to communication, conflicts can be resolved.