CONFLICT is any serious disagreement, argument, clash of interest or variance. Most times people want conflict to be avoided but this is unavoidable when couples want to communicate clearly and express themselves without fear.
What exactly leads to conflict? Money, sex, relatives, children, poor communication, schedules… we can go on and on about what leads to conflict but to a large extent, these reasons are subjective. However, the general fact is that conflicts cannot be completely avoided. Getting upset and annoyed with each other is part of the deal, when properly resolved, it makes the relationship even happier. It gives opportunity to express the way individual feels without pretense.
Now speaking of conflict resolution which is the main deal. According to John Gottman, couples have different boiling point (known as negativity threshold). This talks about the time when discussion becomes tense until one of the couple loses their cool and full-blown argument ensues. Some have high negativity threshold (slow to raise their voices in anger) while others rise quickly to confrontation (low negativity threshold).
It has been found that couples with low negativity threshold (one that don’t let anything go unnoticed and allow each other some room to complain) are more successful than those with high negativity threshold (they let go and only bring things up if they really were a big deal). Couples with low negativity threshold make a habit of letting the other know exactly how upset they are rather than bottle up their feelings about problems. That makes the relationship more resilient. So, it is helpful to study and understand how best to communicate with your partner. Studies have shown that couples who are comfortable with managing their conflict tend to be closer and this applies to all close relationships- with our parents, children, friends and colleagues.
Conflict can be uncomfortable or even unpleasant in the moment but if properly managed and resolved, is a source of strength.
How to have a reasonable conflict
Don’t get hung up on winning. It is US against THE PROBLEM, not against each other.
Learn to respect each other even during heated conversations: Never cross lines or start throwing insults. If your partner is upset about something, then it is important to them, it doesn’t matter if it is not important to you at that moment.
Learn to listen to understand, not listen to reply: it is understandable if you both don’t agree on issues however, it would help if you both listen to each other’s opinion, give a little time to digest the information, then respond.
Keep a sense of humor. This can be difficult when arguing about something of importance to you but laughter is a good safety value. Making a joke, especially if it’s at your own expense, is a reminder that this conflict is to bring you closer, not push you apart.
Concede ground. The upset one should be willing to yield to the other partner’s demand which is a sign of respect. It lowers defenses and makes conversation flow better. Sure, this might not be easy, but it would help to
Highlight the exit sign: You should always take note of the red flag i.e. know when to stop. It is completely okay to postpone the conversation rather than end it in an unmanageable situation.

If handling conflict seems difficult or you are currently going through significant marital or relationship distress, do not walk this tortuous road alone – Contact [email protected] or 081 2827 6962, +234 2291 4084 to book an appointment with a licensed Marriage therapist.