There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ relationship, and there is absolutely no such thing as one without some conflicts in it. Often we are led to believe that the perfect couple is the one that never fights and is always on the same page on everything. As much as the idea sounds appealing, conflict-less relationships don’t exist, and honestly, they shouldn’t. Your disagreements are proof of your separate identities, of your opinionated minds and ideas. While having similar major beliefs is essential, it’s unrealistic to believe that you and your partner would never have any difference of opinions. Conflicts don’t dwindle your love or put cracks in your connection despite the common impressions. If anything, they make your relationship stronger once resolved in a healthy way. Sounds doubtful? Here are some ways you can turn your conflicts into a stronger anchor for your relationship.
1. You’re always a team, especially in fights
Every relationship is based on four things; love, trust, commitment, and respect. These are the foundations that make you and your partner a team. It’s often easy to forget that once you’re in a situation that makes you think you’re on the opposite side of your partner in the argument. But I once read something on the internet that I believe is the one-liner strategy to solve every conflict:
It’s always you and your partner vs. the conflict, not you vs. your partner.
In every problem, it should be you two as a team working out the issue at hand. Let’s take a hypothetical scenario. Suppose your partner’s parents are visiting your place for the first time and you want to make the best impression on them by making the whole dinner classy and elegant. Your partner, however, wants to stay on a budget and doesn’t want to overspend. It’s an easy assumption that it’s simply a you vs. your partner problem when actually it’s you and your partner vs. the dinner conflict. See how that changes the perspective of the problem?
2. Say the words hiding behind the anger
It’s a fact; we can get frustrated and sometimes angry when things don’t go our way. Although the feelings are justified, oftentimes our actions that then come from them are not. Entering a conflict, we usually first get defensive, then our voices rise, leading to our frustration multiplying until we end up going on offense on one another and letting the hurtful, damaging words come out. The problem still remains hung in the air but now you and your partner aren’t even talking to each other. It’s a shut door.
Communication is, however, the key. There’s something bothering you? Say the words! It didn't work? Stop that frustration building right there, and try telling your partner again in a calm and serious way. Don’t know how to explain? Make your partner sit and listen to you and try throwing out all the messy words in your head until they start making sense. Explain to them word by word why you want to go big with the dinner to impress your inlaws or why it’ll be more useful in the long term to save rather than spend.
3. Be receptive to each other’s needs
Now that you’ve both broken down the issue, you need to move towards its solution. The first step is being receptive to each other's opinions and needs. You need to show your partner that the trust and respect are still there and that you’re listening as well. Be patient and spend time trying to figure out each other’s heads. Let go of your argument for a second and try thinking from their point of view. Why do they want to not go big with the dinner? Is it just them not understanding how important it is for you, or maybe there's a more logical reason lying underneath. Similarly, if you're on the other side, is it just irresponsible overspending, or maybe there’s an underlying fear and anxiety of wanting to make a good lasting impression?
4. Find a middle ground
Once you’ve attained a good and calm understanding of each other’s argument, try compromising on the little things you can until both of you reach a middle ground. Try accommodating their needs as much as you can without turning into a competition, trusting that they're doing the same. Remember the real solution isn’t you getting what you want; it’s where both of you are happy with the outcome, whether it's a low-budget high effort dinner or an outdoor lunch instead of dinner altogether. Whatever’s more economical!
5. Water under the bridge
Once the issue has been resolved and you’ve both found a happy common ground, it’s all water under the bridge. There’s the famous saying of ‘forgive and forget,’ one that is the most important in relationships. Resolving a conflict can all become a moot point if even one of you stays in the habit of bringing up old resolved problems and once forgiven mistakes to throw them back at your partner’s face later in life to prove a point. Once a problem is solved, it’s all done and forgotten; all the mistakes made during it, all the things said, all the actions done. Have faith and trust in your partner and know that they're committed enough to your relationship that they’ll give their all, just as you are, to avoid this type of conflict again.
6. Agree to Disagree
Besides all of this, keep in mind that it’s natural to disagree on little things. It’s okay if you want a black Civic really bad and your partner hates Honda altogether. It’s okay if your partner loves watching films from the 60s and you can’t stand black and white. It’s okay if you’re a die-hard fan of Taylor Swift and your partner doesn’t listen to her at all. It’s okay if you think your partner’s iPhone is ridiculous and they should shift to Android. And it’s definitely okay if you love cats and they love dogs. Just agree to disagree.
7. Your partner is only human
No one is perfect. That includes me, you, and all of Earth’s population, and it certainly includes your partner. Keep it in your head that someone is bound to make a mistake every, once in a while. But instead of blaming them and throwing their mistakes back at them, be the safe space, they’ll need for when they do. Everyone knows their mistakes and they don’t need to hear it again from the one person they want all the support from at that moment.
Conflicts aren’t something to be feared. Instead, when they come, look at them as opportunities to grow closer together and strengthen your relationships. After all, if solved in a healthy way, there’s always the option of a low-budget dinner to go out and celebrate!