Top 5 Conflict Resolution Tips for Couples | Couples Counseling St. Louis

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Conflict is inevitable in a relationship, but it shouldn’t be never-ending. Whether you’re married, dating or on the verge of separating, you have faced conflict at some point in your relationship. At Urban Balance in St. Louis, MO, we help couples at every stage of their relationship. Our couples counseling programs are designed to strengthen communication skills  prevent unnecessary arguments, and give you the skills to effectively manage conflict.

Check out these effective conflict resolution strategies for couples, courtesy of our family and relationship counseling practice:

1 – Acknowledge Your Differences

The saying “opposites attract” is true in many ways. While most couples have some similarities, people are naturally attracted to people with opposing opinions. A critical thinker will find a free spirit charming and endearing. The free spirit will see the thinker as a source of structure. We look for what we lack hoping to fill an unspoken void.

Those appealing differences become problematic during an argument. Everything you loved about your partner becomes an annoyance or burden. As you work to resolve a conflict, acknowledge your differences. “You think this way because…, but I think this way because…” This allows you to see your partner’s perspective, and vice versa, so you can begin to work on a compromise.

2 – Establish a Common Ground

Arguments are comprised of two main components: the conflict and the resolution. There is a pivotal moment between the two when the weight of the feud begins to lift – the “aha moment,” if you will. This happens when you start to give value to the other person’s opinion, and they give value to you.

To speed up this process, establish a common ground. You are in disagreement about a lot, but is there one thing you can agree on? Even something as simple as “We remember the situation very differently, but we can both agree that this argument is silly.” That creates a transition into, “How about we {potential resolution}?”

3 – Allow Each Person to Speak, Uninterrupted

Getting interrupted is frustrating, especially when you’re passionate about a subject. Resist the urge to interrupt your partner while he or she is speaking, and ask for the same respect in return. When someone is talking, the other person should listen to the point in its entirety. Then he or she can respond.

If you need to train yourselves to remain quiet while the other person is speaking, use something as a “talking stick.” This could be anything, from a pillow to a spatula to a tennis ball. Whoever holds the object has control of the conversation. This campfire-esque activity may seem odd at first, but it is effective. Eventually you will learn to speak and listen without the need for the tool.

BONUS TIP: Stay off your cell phones during the discussion.  Turn your phones off or put them in another room altogether. Checking your phone will show the other person you’re not listening, and it will prevent you from absorbing what your partner is saying.

4 – Pause the Conflict Temporarily

Sometimes the best way to resolve a conflict is to take a break from it. This gives you both time to process your feelings and think over the situation as a whole. The break may be 30 minutes, or it may be a full night – whatever works for your individual needs. Arguments often blossom because they are continued in the heat of the moment. You’re angry, your partner is angry, and all you’re doing is saying hurtful things to one another.  A pause to gather your thoughts will let the emotions settle, thereby increasing your chance of resolution.

5 – Avoid Argument Triggers

By now, you know how to push each other’s buttons. You know exactly what to say to start or accelerate an argument. Obviously, we want the opposite of that. Avoid argument triggers, when possible, to prevent or defuse a conflict.

For instance, let’s say you make more money than your husband. That financial imbalance is a sore subject for him. During an argument, you may be tempted to bring up money to hurt him (probably in retaliation to something hurtful he said to you). Take a moment to think about the consequences of that statement. The temporary revenge you feel will not be worth the multi-hour argument that follows. You can work with your couples counselor to pinpoint these conflict triggers so you can bypass them in the future.

To learn more about conflict resolution, contact one of our counseling centers in Greater Chicago, Hinsdale or St. Louis. You may schedule an appointment for individual therapy or couples counseling by phone at (888) 726-7170, or send an email to