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HomeEditors Pick : Top StoriesHow to resolve conflicts in relationships?

How to resolve conflicts in relationships?

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boy and girl in rain

Conflicts and disagreements are sure to occur in any relationships. The more you know a person, the more are the possibilities for disagreements. Conflicts are inevitable due to differences in opinion and perceptions and if not resolved with time. So, how we resolve conflicts to preserve and enhance a relationship is important.

Common topics over which couples quarrel are Financial Management, Family Issues, Communication, Household Tasks, Personal Style and Habits, Decision Making, Sexual Relationship, Quality Time, Spiritual Beliefs, Roles and Responsibilities and so on.

There are constructive as well as destructive ways to resolve any fight. To resolve any conflict constructively, a person has to focus on similarities instead of differences. Emphasis must be on the current issue and openly discuss positive and negative feelings. The destructive way to resolve conflict is to crib and complain.  In this, the person brings up old issues and express only negative feelings.

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There are two main objectives to resolve any conflict. First is a concern for self which is measured by how aggressive the person is and Second is a concern for others which focuses on the level of cooperation. Majorly people use three ways to resolve any conflict;

Discuss Things Calmly, Suffer Silently and Screaming. The styles of resolution of conflict vary considerably and are as follows:

  • Competitive Style: In this style, a person peruses personal concerns at the expense of others
  • Collaborative Style: In this style, a person is highly assertive about self along with great concern for others.
  • Compromising Style: This style is intermediate between aggressiveness and cooperativeness.
  • Avoidance Style: In this style, the person sidesteps the issue by changing the concern or withdrawing.
  • Accommodating Style: This style involves nonassertive and cooperative behavior.

Each conflict should be resolved with caution and thoughtfulness. To resolve any conflict, a person has to keep in mind the personality of those who are involved, benefits of the fight and the level of investment both have to maintain the relationship.

Marriage and Family Counsellors generally talk about six basic steps to resolve conflicts:

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Clarification of Issue: There are a few ways a person can clarify the issue.

  • Each individual must take responsibility and spend time alone to think about what is bothering him or her. Each person needs to question oneself of thoughts, desires, feelings about the issue in hand and clear what they want?
  • Each person must understand what the other person is saying. Active listening plays an important role in this. A person ought to listen properly to their partner. The person who is communicating information must also clarify what has been conveyed and understood by the listener.
  • Individuals must keep the discussion focused and not let it get overpowered by side issues. If someone is drifting away from the issue, they need to be reminded to refocus.
  • Each person should get the opportunity to talk and summarize what the other has said and ensured if both are on the same page.

 Identification of what each person wants:

The moment conflict arises, some people fail to say what they really mean or want. This could lead to disagreements and fights. If one person doesn’t have the clarity of what he or she wants, it indicates that this part of the process has not been completed. The person should not just be aware of what they are looking for but also why they are looking for it and what is the purpose behind it, this will give more motivation and help to stay focus.


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There are numerous ways a person can be satisfied. They must have a look at several options that could help to deal with the issue. Brainstorming discussions increases a person’s ability to identify a list of solutions. It’s a creative way to address conflicts in a relationship. It means to think of a maximum number of possible outcomes to a situation. Generating alternatives highlights the facts that many possibilities exist even when the person thinks that they are at an impasse.


Once a list of alternatives or solutions is noted down, then time come to take action. A person can use the following ways to negotiate differences.

  • Quid Pro Quo: In Latin, it means “this for that”. This means if you will do this for me then I will do that for you. This clarifies what each person is going to do. The main problem in this approach is that it can easily break down if a person is unable to keep the promise. For example: if a person is doing more work than the other, they can sit down and talk about this and further easily define their roles. Quid pro quo can help them do the above-mentioned process equally. Quid Pro Quid talks about the division of power.
  • Agree to Disagree: Numerous times, the mutual solution is not always possible. Even after enough discussions, both felt even more strongly what they wanted. Because both couldn’t agree on one mutual point, then they agreed to disagree. But this approach only works in the short run.

Consolidating the Agreements:

Before finalizing the solution, each person should take time to explore, what the solution means to them.  Both individuals need to be empathetic and sensible enough about one another. The solution must surpass in a descriptive way and realistic enough to implement. If possible, solutions could be written down in clear and simple language.

Review and Renegotiate:

A timely review is required for the solution of the situation. This ensures whether the negative feelings of the situation still exist or not. If the promise is not fulfilled, it should be reviewed at the earliest. Failed promises most of the time can create doubt about each other’s genuine interest in working together.

Therefore, we can easily conclude that people can resolve any conflict, 1st is for the person is important to them and 2nd is they want the relationship to survive. It further helps the bond to grow. Sometimes, one person simply forgets to do what was agreed upon then there is a need to remind oneself that change is rarely smooth. Reality is that no single person on this earth can completely live up to other’s expectations. So to create a strong relationship/marriage, it is important to effectively deal with conflict and prevent any serious problem in a relationship and learn logical steps to build a healthy relationship.

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Dr. Nisha Khanna
Dr. Nisha Khanna
Celebrity Psychologist from the past 18+ years Dr. Nisha Khanna is one of the leading marriage and family counselor in Delhi NCR. She assists individuals and couples from every walk of life. She has offered assistance in more than 3750+ cases (professional and personal related needs of an individual, couple and families). Dr. Nisha has dealt with clients having emotional, mental, and physical & adjustment problems in their love, friendship, live-in, pre-marital, post-marital/post-marriage, family, professional life. She deals with the parent-child relationship, depression, insomnia, anxiety and all other kinds of moods, emotions, temperament, personality and behavioural issues.


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