in: Dating & Relationships

How to Embrace Conflict in Your Relationship

Do you face discord with aggression? Do you recoil from confrontation? Gerry Ellen discusses the nuances of disagreement and how to embrace conflict.

The moment two people in love and partnership start disagreeing on everything under the sun, that is the same moment to step back, collect ourselves, think kind thoughts toward the other, and respond in a way that is healthy and growth-producing.

Sure it sounds easier said than done, yet a majority of relationships (whether business or pleasure) can be saved, even nurtured, with the proper amount of constructive conflict.

I have always been shy with disagreements with my partner. I would retreat, go silent, cry… do all the things that are not healthy in any way, shape or form. In my more youthful years it seemed easier to throw a tantrum right back at my partner; I’d see if I could get under his skin to create resolution. No dice. It made matters worse.

Connecting on an emotionally healthy level requires plenty of heart work. It requires digging into our insides to find what can produce the optimum outcome when communicating with our loved ones. If we were to sidestep every argument or sweep our feelings under the carpet during times of strife, the issues would wait under the surface, relentlessly... resulting in more stress warranted than alleviated.

A healthy and harmonious relationship—of any kind—depends on both people willing to compromise and understand both sides of the issues at hand. It’s as if neither one is right or wrong, but listening to the others’ words and seeing their body language will present a whole new perspective on how to converse in a more aware light.

Facing the other, staring into their eyes with love and respect, responding with kindness versus reacting out of fear, this is the foundation for quality conflict.

There isn’t a relationship alive that doesn’t have opposing views in some form or another. From parenting to money, to intimacy, to hobbies, to things done around the house, to travel, and all else related to togetherness and openly sharing, there are endless opportunities to stumble into discord. But focus on that key phrase, “openly sharing.” Once things are out there and presented in a way that is respectful, the conflict management is already developing into a healthy manner.

Most couples’ therapists have to deal with two people who can’t manage—or refuse to agree on—some of the most basic principles in life. Believe me, I have had days in therapy where the anger was so intense between my partner and me that we were actually fired by a few therapists. I wasn’t participating in the yelling sessions, but merely cowering in my seat with a stream of tears flowing down my face.

And that was part of the problem.

I had no tools on how to effectively disagree without melting into a pile of pity for myself. The therapist did her job well by suggesting we leave. There was too much tension and hardship for her to break through if we weren’t willing to go there and be responsible on our own. After a few weeks and some serious soul-searching on my part—not to mention scribbling furiously in my journal every second I had—I realized that if anything had to change, we had to take ownership of our personal everything and go from there.

It doesn’t happen overnight.

It requires a commitment to the relationship, the self, and healing process. It must begin with this before the flow of conflict can ease into a phase of the partnership in which growth is once again possible.

We can’t avoid conflict entirely. The healthiest decision we can make for the sake of our relationships is to face our issues with compassion and dignity.

We have to accept the light with the dark, the good with the bad, and the right with the wrong in order to flourish as a couple. If it is something other than a committed love relationship, say in business or friendship, there continues to be an opportunity to gradually share what emotions and feelings are resting inside our bodies; knowing that any forward momentum will be encouraged with words that come from a compassionate and kind place. This is not a tiring subject at all, but rather one of the new found order.

Let’s think before we speak, respond versus react, and continue to nurture a healthy way to agree to disagree. It requires patience and love and respect. Throw in some good old fashioned *play* and the seriousness of the relationship just eased a bit. Laughter is one of the best medicines, and if we can inject it consciously into our communication, then we will be in for the long haul of togetherness.

[image: via shutterstock]

About the Author:

Gerry Ellen

Gerry Ellen is an author, creative storyteller, and wellness advocate. She enjoys sharing her experiences of life, love, and all things meaningful and healthy through words and images. She is a regular contributor to MeetMindful, Be You Media Group, Tattooed Buddha, and Rebelle Society. As a former featured columnist on elephant journal and Light Workers World, she considers her love of nature and the outdoors, heart-centered connections, friends and family, and traveling to explore and expand as the epicenter of her world. She is extremely driven with her service work through 8 Paws Wellness with her dog, Scout. Gerry Ellen has authored and published two books, Ripple Effects (March 2012) and A Big Piece of Driftwood (April 2014), which are both available on


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