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4 Ways to repair a relationship after conflict

Conflict is completely normal in any relationship, where they fail is based on the level and quality of friendship. Learning to deal with conflict in a respectful way is key to a happy long relationship and we call these repair attempts. Here I have outlined 4 important ways in which repair attempts can fail.

1) Criticism – To complain in a relationship is fine and healthy to air our frustrations. There is a difference between complaining and criticising, we all have complaints in a relationship. Criticism however is a personal attack on a person’s character and personality. An example of what this would look like is

Complaint – “I’m really angry that you are on your phone when I’m trying to spend time with you. When you do that I feel that there is a barrier between us and I would like to spend time with you”

Criticism – “why are you always on your phone? You don’t want to spend any time with me ever. What is wrong with you? You just don’t care”

2) Contempt – name calling, eye rolling, sneering, mockery, hostile humour, sarcasm or cynicism and aggressive anger only lead to more conflict.

3) Defensiveness – think of this as a relay race handing the baton back and forth between you and your partner between contempt and defensiveness. Blaming your partner and not looking at your own part within the conflict, this can arise from being flooded with emotion from the conflict.

4) Stonewalling - disengaging from the conversation and leaving the room or building. This will never resolve the issue and will cause multiple arguments about the same issue. Do not confuse this with needing to leave the room with flooding. When a person is flooded with emotion their body will go through fight or flight due to the surge of adrenaline pumping through the body. If this occurs then it is perfectly acceptable to leave the room for an agreed period of time as conflict cannot be resolved in fight or flight.

Conflict in any relationship is normal, it is how we repair the relationship and both work towards a future of mutual respect that is important. We need to make sure our positive beliefs about a person out weigh the negative ones.


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