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Why Conflict in Relationships Is Healthy Yet Can Get So Messy

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

As paradoxical as it may sound, conflict, when handled with maturity and understanding, can be incredibly healthy for relationships. In fact, unresolved conflict is often what drives many couples to seek out a marriage and family therapist. These professionals are trained to take a close look at how couples and families interact. They search for missed opportunities where each person could’ve used conflict to build a stronger bond and grow closer, but instead it moved them further apart. They also work with couples to help them navigate the barriers and emotions that might be getting in the way of conflict resolution. When we shy away from conflicts, we often miss the chance to gain insight into our partner's perspective and deepen our mutual understanding.

Conflict in relationships

Conflict Resolution is a Dance Isn’t it?

The process of conflict resolution can be compared to an intricate dance—two individuals attempting to move in harmony while navigating a myriad of emotions. Despite its inherent messiness, the result can be a deeper, more authentic connection. Isn’t this what couples who truly love each other ultimately want? Yet still, conflict can become chaotic. Relationship experts would agree that one of the reasons for this is because conflict resolution involves confronting differences and negotiating needs. This is a task that requires vulnerability, patience, and emotional agility.

Elements of Conflict Resolution

Even though we're not building an exhaustive list or a step-by-step guide to healthy conflict, it's crucial to highlight three key elements that underpin it: respect, communication, and compromise. First, respect ensures that both parties feel valued and heard, even when they do not share the same views. Second, effective communication lays the groundwork for understanding each other's perspectives and emotions. Lastly, compromise acknowledges that neither party has to 'win' or 'lose,' but rather that both are working together for a common goal—the health of the relationship.

The Role of Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists play a pivotal role in guiding couples through the turbulent yet transformative process of conflict resolution. They provide a safe and supportive environment for couples to explore their conflicts, helping them understand each other's point of view. With their assistance, couples can learn to embrace conflict as an opportunity for growth, rather than viewing it as a threat to their relationship.

Something to Keep in Mind

While conflict can indeed get messy, it doesn't mean it's unhealthy. On the contrary, when approached with the right mindset and the right tools, it can be a potent catalyst for growth and a deeper connection in a relationship. So, let's embrace conflict, not as a disruptive force, but as a chance to improve our understanding, our communication, and ultimately, our relationships.

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