Today’s article link is a good summary of how to improve conflict management in intimate relationships.
Especially once the honeymoon phase of New Relationship Energy wears off and people start to settle into more comfortable, often less-conscious patterns of behaviour with each other, conflict starts to creep into interactions. We see each other’s less “Best Behaviour” sides and start to realize there’s more to this person than we realized in the warm hazy glow of fresh love.
John Gottman, relationship researcher, has spent 25+ years studying couples in his Love Lab and concluded that it’s not how relationships manage their similarities that determines success or failure of the relationship, it’s how we manage our differences and points of conflict. His big thing is charting how couples in heated interactions handle what he terms “repair attempts”, or ways to acknowledge conflict without letting the heat of the emotional stuff behind it burn the participants. This January 2014 article from GoodTherapy.org provides a little bit of insight into how to focus on connection when fighting rather than catastrophe and division.
For more information on how to handle conflict better, I recommend John Gottman’s books, specifically The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. These kinds of tools for staying present and mindful even when the moments are turbulent and heated, are the tools most likely to build strength and resiliency into relationships, rather than reinforcing brittle and bitter entrenchments.