How to deal with a conflict in a couple?

After the first euphoric moments, when the partner is idealised, friction inevitably appears. How do you manage a conflict in your relationship? Here are a few tips to limit the unpleasantness of everyday life.

Conflict in a couple: going beyond the impulse

Few couples don't argue. Stress at work, fatigue or loss of patience with the children: many factors can have a negative influence on the relationship. Sometimes, seemingly harmless arguments conceal major points of contention. However, even in this particular case, a calm discussion is much better than a succession of unpleasant words and slamming doors.

The beginning of a conflict situation is shaped by two people. Tone of voice, misplaced thoughts, hasty gestures: the signs of the beginning of a quarrel are easily recognisable. Whether they come from you or your partner, you can defuse them by acting quickly: calmly announce that you do not wish to argue, leave the room, go for a walk. It is important to take some time to reflect on the situation or, on the contrary, to think about something else and put things into perspective. A reaction "on the spot" is often regretted as opposed to a well thought-out reaction.

To overcome the impulse is to forbid oneself to say mean things that one does not mean, to succeed in calming oneself so as not to make things worse.

Do not exaggerate or generalise during a couple's conflict

If a conflict does arise, keep a cool head in all circumstances and do what is necessary to remain fair. If your partner doesn't wash the dishes often, it doesn't mean that he or she never does. This difference in vocabulary is important: if you exaggerate, he will feel unfairly attacked and will react accordingly.

It's better to ask him why he couldn't wash the plates this time. Their answers may help you to understand their behaviour. A partner who is not attacked is more likely to open up to dialogue than one who feels devalued and attacked. With this communication, you will start on a healthy footing and open a dialogue instead of just expressing your annoyance.

Settling scores only in private

Is there tension between you that you need to let out? A good rule of thumb is to never "air your dirty laundry" in public. If you're at a dinner party, or in any social setting, keep up appearances as long as you're around each other, even if it means avoiding each other or moving away if the setting allows.

There are advantages to not reacting on the spot: you may both be calmer when you are alone. You will then be able to address the subject of the attitude or the remark that hurt you more calmly. Moreover, arguing in public tends to encourage you to raise your voice more quickly, or to want others to take sides; especially as there is nothing more hurtful than being humiliated in front of spectators.

Keeping communication open within the couple

The primary cause of conflict is poor communication. It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget to spend a little time with your partner. When communication closes down, dissatisfaction only leads to arguments. To prevent conflict, remember to talk, to ask how your partner feels, to find out what he or she is going through. Do not hesitate to verbalise your own insecurities, especially if you are going through a stressful or conflict-prone period.

Apologising after a relationship conflict

Was your tone of voice a bit harsh? Did you interrupt your partner to talk about yourself? Did you completely forget to buy what he or she had asked for? Apologies are not taken for granted and are never tacit: make it clear that you are sorry. This way you can prevent an unintentional thought or a blunder from turning into a big argument. And if the conflict was unavoidable, once the tension has subsided, acknowledge your wrongdoing, possibly admit your bad faith, and multiply your gestures of love. Generally speaking, the more your words have gone beyond your thoughts, the more aggressive you have been, the sooner you need to apologise. Don't wait several days, because then the resentment or hurt has time to build up in your partner.

Kindness is an essential feeling to develop within a couple: it is in its name that many conflicts are aborted. However, unless they are recurrent or violent, arguments in a couple are neither alarming nor dramatic: they allow the tension to be released and a new start to be made.

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