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How to Deal with Conflict in a Relationship - 5 Strategies That Work

By Gottman Connect Staff

Published on 11/18/2022

Conflicts are a natural part of any relationship, but how can we make them useful and minimize their negative impact on our connections?


If you want to learn ways to resolve conflict in a relationship you've come to the perfect spot. We have five incredible tactics and steps that will assist you in re-establishing intimacy and communication.

Be Open for Communication

There are many ways to resolve conflict in a relationship but they all begin with open communication and patience. Given that conflicts are not inherently bad, you must concentrate on the constructive aspects of the argument and ensure that both you and your spouse are heard.

How to Be Open for Communication  in Your Relationship

Couples in the midst of an argument may be less likely to maintain a calm and courteous demeanor, yet this is the key to resolving the conflict and fostering healthy communication.

By maintaining a safe and caring environment, even during disagreements, you can go through the experience more quickly and easily.

Try to:

  • Soften your start-up - Dr. Gottman argues that softening your start-up may save you a lot of trouble, even when there is an issue to be rectified. Avoid criticizing statements such as "You never clean up after yourself; I do everything around the home," and instead say, “I feel overwhelmed and I could really use some help with the chores”
  • Talk about positive things - It's tempting to get carried away and criticize your partner for everything. However, if you want to have a successful marriage, you must also discuss the positive aspects, rather than focusing exclusively on the bad.

Assist your spouse with phrases such as "We've overcome so many obstacles together, I'm confident we'll conquer this one as well";

How to Help Your Partner Be Open in Communication in Your Relationship

Some people speak effortlessly, while others may require assistance. If your spouse is hesitant to engage in an open dispute and speak freely with you, you may wish to:

  1. Allow them to openly express their emotions and refrain from interfering with the discourse;
  2. Suggest couples therapy to get you started on the right track;
  3. Demonstrate to them that they are appreciated even when the debate becomes heated

Get to the Point

Long-term relationships are complex systems with many variables, so a lot of things might need to be resolved at the same time. But, handling problems as they come along and not allowing big emotions to pile up is the best way to learn how to resolve conflict in a relationship.

Try focusing on one issue and be precise.

How to Get to the Point in Your Relationship

Experts advise you to regard the debate as a "one-stop-shop" and to get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible. To prevent excessively expanding the uncomfortable talk, consider the following strategies:

  • Don’t dwell on the past - Maintain a fruitful argument by remaining focused on the subject at hand. Avoid bringing up past events and work on your listening abilities.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff - When you feel as though you're debating over something trivial, a larger issue is generally present. It is critical to identify the primary issue and settle it rather than waste energy on minor quarrels. Substitute phrases such as "You never listen" and "You are constantly on your phone" with "I feel like we don't spend enough time together."

How to Help Your Partner Get to the Point in Your Relationship

If you view each disagreement as a chance to better understand your partner's needs and build connections, you may be able to assist your spouse more effectively.

  1. Demonstrate to your spouse that you understand them and direct them to the relationship's underlying issue;
  2. If you see they are unhappy over something trivial, attempt to determine the root cause and how to handle conflict in a relationship efficiently.
  3. Try to change roles and acknowledge how your partner might feel during the discussion;

Learn How to Listen

Arguments and confrontations frequently emerge when someone feels unseen or unheard. To prevent this situation and reach a settlement, you must learn how to listen attentively to your wife or husband.

How to Listen in Your Relationship

If you want to know the fine art of how to reduce conflict in a relationship you must first learn to listen to your partner. This will take some effort and patience, but it is a necessary step in increasing relationship satisfaction.

Try these tips and tricks:

  • Remain present - Arguing is not a joyful experience, and you may want to flee immediately, but keep in mind that you are in this together and stand by your partner. Keep an open mind and accept the information.
  • Don’t assume - Allow your spouse to express themselves as they like, as long as they do so courteously and lovingly. Rather than interrupting and interpreting the words, ask questions such as  “You are very upset because I said that, am I right?”;

How to Help Your Partner Listen in Your Relationship

To have a strong and loving connection, you may need to demonstrate strength and guide your spouse. This may entail teaching them how to listen and be there when you need support.

  1. Bear in mind that different people require varying degrees of attention to experience joy and satisfaction;
  2. Share reassuring remarks that are simpler to take before going on to less enjoyable activities. Assuring your spouse that you are on the same track will help them concentrate and listen to you more since they will no longer feel attracted.
  3. If you believe your spouse is not on the same page as you and you feel ignored, begin to suggest counseling

Find Middle Ground

Dr. Gottman recommends avoiding The Four Horsemen and focusing on a resolution and agreement that feels good for both of you. The argument is not a contest, but rather a chance to move even further than before. Therefore, avoid postponing the talk but also attempt to resolve it quickly.

How to Find Middle Ground in Your Relationship

In every long-term relationship, compromises are necessary, as partners cannot always agree on everything. Therefore, if the conflict is minor, seek a middle ground; nevertheless, if you find yourself arguing over the same issue again, it may be time to seek help.

  • Stop controlling your partner - Marriage and relationships are about happiness, pleasure, sex, and friendship. Therefore, you must abandon your attempt to control things and demonstrate affection even when it is difficult
  • Balance - If an issue is solvable, you must find a solution and go forward. There is no reason to linger on the subject.

How to Help Your Partner Find Middle Ground in Your Relationship

"How much conflict is normal in a relationship?" you may question. since at times, it may appear as though you are simply fixing issues. The reality is that each relationship is unique, and you must rely on your spouse for the majority of things, which might result in conflict.

However, even if the topic becomes heated, you may assist your spouse in finding a middle ground:

  1. Suggest online classes and therapy that might help you find solutions faster in the future;
  2. Avoid bringing up separation and divorce as middle ground as it might look too overwhelming to your spouse;
  3. Remind them that the goal is to build and improve intimacy even when you are arguing;

Make Repair Attempts

The conflict might not be resolved in one conversation so you need the commitment and love for your partner to take over. This entails gently concluding the conversation and attempting to mend the connection in the meantime.

How to Make Repair Attempts in Your Relationship

Learning how to resolve conflict in a relationship when both feel strongly and stop to think might sound easier than it really is. When a discussion is unproductive, it may be preferable to:

  • Take a break - Communication is a two-way street and if your husband or wife is not up to it, it’s a good idea to take a break and clear your mind;
  • Reassure your partner - Your partner can always use some reassurance that everything will be alright. Use humor and things you agree on to lighten up the mood.

How to Help Your Partner Make Repair Attempts in Your Relationship

If your spouse feels passionate about a certain argument they might need your strength and help to calm down and reassess. You can initiate physical touch and build intimacy even in the hardest moments.

As long as you keep in mind that you are on the same team and fighting for the same outcome, your spouse will be more receptive to communication and improvement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can cause conflict in a relationship?

There are many things causing conflict in a relationship but most of the time the problem is either perpetual or solvable. If you feel like you need additional assistance in your relationship you can book one-on-one counseling now.

How much conflict is healthy in a relationship?

An average couple will have some kind of conflict one time per week. But, keep in mind that conflict is not a bad thing as long as it’s not a battle. Speak to your partner openly and build your relationship with each discussion.

Is conflict a sign that a relationship is going to fail??

No, conflict is a natural thing that all couples go through. As long as you avoid criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling you will be on a great path to healing and happiness.

Final Thoughts

Conflicts can be used to resolve many issues if you have the right approach. Now that you know the best tactics and strategies it might be a good idea to add other resources like:

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