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5 Simple Ways to Quickly Resolve Conflict with Your Partner

Couple on the beach

“Don’t make a permanent decision for your temporary emotion.” ~Unknown

You have a small disagreement with your partner, and before you know it, it escalates into a big fight. Sound familiar?

You then get dreadfully grumpy. You stick your head in the ground like an ostrich and ignore your partner. You think that you have the right to be grumpy or even angry.

You’re in “war” mode now, and you want to win the battle. You dig a trench, jump into it, and arm yourself with weapons.

You barely listen to a word your partner says, and all you want is for him or her to say, “I’m so sorry, you’re right.”

Perhaps this is something that you can relate to. Maybe you find yourself responding in this way at times. But I have to admit, this particular example is referring to myself.

This was me on a lot of occasions when confronted by a small disagreement with my partner, and something that I still struggle with today.

It became a bit of a habit. I would get offended quickly, and I’d turn what could have been something that was easily resolved into a big war.

Why?

Well, here goes…because I was proud. I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong.

I have come to realize that not only was my response incredibly damaging for my relationship, it was not very loving or caring.

It the heat of an argument, it’s easy to forget that and we let our pride get the best of us.

Every time you give into your pride and start a war, you make a little crack in your relationship. It may not seem to have a big impact at first, but slowly, the crack will get bigger.

You can compare it to a crack in the window of your car. If you don’t fix it, the crack will become bigger and bigger until it is so big, it can’t be repaired anymore.

So, is it really worth it? For me, it’s an easy no. Holding onto my pride is not worth putting a crack in my relationship.

More than anything, I want my relationship to be successful, fulfilling, and full of love.

5 Ways to Quickly Resolve Conflict with Your Partner

We all know that it’s not easy to turn off the “pride switch” when we are in the heat of an argument. We don’t want to give in.

The key is to find tools and strategies to help you respond better when in the heat of the moment. Here are some simple but effective tools to help you have productive conflict, rather than destructive conflict.

1. Stop in your tracks and choose your response.

When you are just on the verge of having an argument, you need to make a decision. You need to decide: Am I going to choose to respond positively and productively, or am I going to let myself get angry and annoyed?

Often, we get angry without even thinking about it. It’s our natural response when confronted with conflict. But once our body jumps into that fight or flight mode, it’s very difficult to turn back.

The key is to get in the habit of asking yourself quickly, before you get angry: How am I going to choose to respond at this moment? Just challenging yourself quickly might be enough to push you in the other direction.

2. Ask yourself these questions before you get angry.

  • When I wake up in the morning, will I agree with the way I responded?
  • Will I regret my response?
  • Would I want my partner to respond in the same way?

These are all questions that can help you to make the choice to respond productively, rather than giving into your pride or anger.

3. Acknowledge the other person’s feelings.

A lot of the time when we have arguments, they seem to just go around in circles. 

“Yes but, no but, yes but, okay but” are words that you tend to hear a lot!

Acknowledging the other person rather than saying “but” after their every sentence will virtually guarantee that the conversion will make progress. This will also mean that you won’t go around in circles, and, therefore, get more frustrated and angry as the minutes and even hours go by.

Acknowledging sounds pretty simple, but how do you actually do it?

It’s more complicated than you think, because overtime we have programmed ourselves to defend ourselves, and not acknowledge the other person during an argument.

Here’s an important truth to help you break away from that habit: Acknowledging the other person’s feelings does not mean that you agree with what they have done. It does not mean that you are giving in either.

It simply involves saying something like “I can understand how you have come to feel that way,” not “You are right for feeling that way, and I am wrong.” 

If you can learn the skill of acknowledgment, you will be amazed at how much less often a small disagreement will turn into a war.

4. Avoid using rhetorical questions to get what you want.

It will only aggravate the situation to ask rhetorical questions, such as “Why do you always do that?” or “Why can’t you just be more loving?” or “Why do you only ever think about yourself?”

It’s not productive at all because it attacks the other person. Rather, you should be specific with what you want. For example, instead of saying,“Why do you always do that?” you could say, “I really don’t like it when you shout at me; can you please stop shouting?”

Learning to have productive conflict is so important for a happy and successful relationship.

5. Say sorry.

Just do it!

Chances are, during an argument, you are going to say or do things you shouldn’t have. Maybe you got angry, maybe you raised your voice, or maybe you said something nasty.

The point is, no one is perfect.

Apologizing for your part does not mean that you agree with the other person’s behavior; however, someone has got to say it first, right?

So, maybe you can choose to be the person who just sucks it up and apologizes.

Why? Because you would rather get over the conflict sooner, and enjoy your relationship with your partner.

In my relationship, I have learned that apologizing more freely has led to significantly fewer arguments and very few fights.

Rather than fighting with my partner, I can laugh with her, have fun with her, and enjoy her company. And we don’t have to worry that our day or night will be ruined by a silly little argument.

Pride is a powerful thing that can wrap itself around you and suck you in. Once you’ve crossed that line and have gotten angry, it’s difficult to go back. To help you turn that around and have productive conflict with your partner, be sure to use these tools.

They have helped me significantly in choosing a better response when at the verge of an argument, and my relationship is much better off for it.

Conflict image via Shutterstock

About Bastiaan Blikman

Bastiaan Blikman is a writer and co-founder of Want2discover. Visit his website for more great articles on self-improvement and how to live a fulfilling, meaningful and happy life. Be sure to download a copy of his Free Ebook: 52 Simple Steps Towards Happiness and Success.

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  • ccrgirl

    Great tips, Bastiaan, thank you so very much!

  • Thank you ccrgirl! I’m really glad my article was useful for you

  • annt

    Thank you so much for your post! I’ve been struggling to resolve conflicts and these are definitely great reminders as I continue to practice. At the end of the day, just as you said, having a fulfilling relationship with our partner with peace, love and respect is just so much more important than winning over an argument. It’s definitely easier said than done but I will never give up on practicing. Thanks again 🙂

  • thank you for your comment! Choosing the wrong words can certainly turn into a conflict. It’s so important to stop for a moment and don’t respond on auto-pilot. Glad to hear you liked the article.

  • treb

    Donot, during a discussion, take points of view as a personal matter. It seems very helpfull in avoiding collission and fights in a relationship of whatever kind. In personal almost all kind of relationships. Its kind of courtesy behaviour.

  • Erica

    Love the article!

  • Greta Leemhuis

    Mooi artikel!

  • Peace Within

    Hi Bastiaan, I think this is a great article. I feel like it can be applied in all relationships, not just with a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife. It’s called assertive communication. I am working on being more assertive, communicating healthy. It prevents a lot of miscommunication and helps me understand people better and them understand me. Keep it up 🙂

  • Dankjewel!

  • Thank you Erica, glad to hear you liked it.

  • Hello Annt, I know, it’s not an easy thing… We all have our automatic responses when we get into a conflict. I still struggle with this, but these 5 things really help me to resolve it in a good manner. It’s good to realize that winning all those little battles won’t get you anywhere, it will only drive you and your partner apart. Thank you for your comment and all the best!

  • Thank you Peace Within for your comment. It’s so true that the 5 ways in this post can be applied to other relationships as well. I am really surprised at the effects of these 5 simple ways. Good luck with becoming more assertive 🙂

  • That’s a great point Treb. Taking things to personally during an argument can make things a lot more heated. Thanks for commenting on my article.

  • Peace Within

    You’re welcome!

  • Vicky Koelker Glancy

    Bastiaan, in point 3, did you men to say “Acknowledging the other person’s feelings does (not) mean that you agree with what they have done.” This is a great article and I would like to pass it on to friends and family.

  • I did mean that ;-). You’re more than welcome to share this article with your friends and family. Thank you for your comment!