Resolving conflict is a skill. Where do we learn it and why is it important in intimate relationships?
Some individuals are of the mistaken impression that a good relationship is without conflict. Conflict is a fact of life, so the issue isn’t creating a life without it, but learning how to resolve conflict peacefully.
It is not uncommon that the learning ground for resolving conflict is our family of origin. How our parents resolved their issues and if siblings, how they helped siblings relate and resolve issues is the building block for all future management of conflict.
Interestingly, some individuals say that they are nothing like their parents. Indeed though, they may have swung the pendulum too far in the other direction and as such, the family experience growing up is still influential.
If one’s experience of conflict is that it can lead to danger, then some individuals may seek to avoid conflict altogether. This means any little issues carries on unresolved. Like an itch that can’t get scratched, it continues to annoy. If one saw that violence and/or controlling behavior was used to address differences, then one may be prone to use those strategies. Wanting to be better than one’s parents, one may not realize that although less intense, controlling behavior still undermines successful resolution of conflict.
Conflict resolution, like playing the piano is a skill that can be learned. It is amazing what can be achieved by couples interested in improving their intimacy by attending counseling to learn these skills.
If you find yourself living with tension or conflict that continues or escalates, do consider counseling. Best case scenario is for the couple to attend together. If one’s partner doesn’t attend, then going on your own may still provide an opportunity to learn and try new skills. A more satisfying relationship is one where people learn to talk, resolve matters peacefully and reach agreements both can live with.