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Navigating Conflict With Love

If you want a strong relationship that lasts, it's crucial to prioritize navigating conflict well.


All relationships, once they reach a certain level of intimacy, will have conflict. You can't avoid this. It's normal. What matters is how well you handle it and how quickly you repair.


When you handle conflict well, it can actually help you create more emotional connection and understanding.


For most of us, how we handle conflict comes from what we learned and witnessed as children. If your parents avoided difficult conversations with each other or even with you, you may see conflict as something to be avoided. Or if your parents' fights turned ugly, you may associate conflict with danger or think that conflict is something that has to sound loud and angry.


The other day, someone asked me how you argue with kindness.


Many people can't understand how the two can go together, but the person you are arguing with is not your enemy or even your opponent. They are your partner. Your teammate. Your lover. Your friend. Kindness, therefore is imperative.


If you see conflict as a bad thing, then you will be afraid of it which will cause you to shut down, get defensive, be dishonest, interrupt, and so on.


I've learned that repair is necessary after conflict. Repair is important in order to come back together and keep the intimacy strong.


Here are some things that therapy and practice have showed me:



Deal with issues/problems asap. Timing is important and you don't want to bring up an issue at a bad time but you also don't want to put conflict off. Don't allow issues to linger and bad feelings to take root.


Validate and empathize. Really listen to your partner and show care for their side. Let them know you understand. One thing worth working on is trying to listen for the feelings behind the words. Aim to discern what's behind the complaint. For instance, a complaint about a partner being too busy could really be a desire for more of their time or attention.



Try to work through the things that trigger you. This may be done by taking a break to self-soothe or just expressing why you're feeling triggered so that your partner can show you empathy and help you through it. Ultimately, your goal is to not react from that triggered place but to continue to respond in love and communicate well.


Once you have worked through the problem, go make tacos!


Ok, you don't have to literally go make tacos but I once heard a couple talk about how they had an argument right before dinner. Because of the work they've done on their connection, once the argument was over, they were able to go make tacos together instead of letting that conflict affect the rest of their night.


Good repair techniques done right away should help you to move on quickly after an argument instead of letting it create distance and negative feelings for the rest of the day.


Remember it's totally normal to have conflict with your partner. In fact it's good. Getting to the place where you can have conflict in loving and kind ways is worth the effort!


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