Updated: Nov 14
Conflict is misunderstood. Don’t get me wrong, it is an explosion of pent up anger and everything but pleasant when it comes to experiencing it yourself. It is awful and maddening and frustrating and more often than not it is followed by feelings of regret and that guilt that really tears apart any sort of happiness that you may feel at the time and eats away at you… (I’m kind of disproving my point here…) but as horrible and daunting as conflict may seem, it is just as necessary, since conflict is often the ‘constructive feedback’ we need in order to grow.
The first step to making someone understand why conflict is so necessary for a healthy relationship is to change the way we perceive conflict since there definitely are ways to harness the good that can come from a disagreement. For example, say you are in a relationship. Imagine you got into an argument with your partner, it wasn’t really your fault or at least it wasn’t something of much significance. Maybe you forgot to text them back, maybe you went to bed with your socks on, maybe you did something so very insignificant that you didn’t even notice and your partner usually wouldn’t notice either but this time it led to an enormous fight. Υou are caught off guard, maybe you aren’t altogether pleased by how things have been going lately, maybe it’s the injustice of starting an argument out of thin air. Whatever it is, sooner or later, you get involved.
At the time, getting into an argument with someone we love and care for can seem quite, well…bad; especially since there are so many things that are said in the heat of the moment that are often not true, and even if they are true they are still going to be interpreted by your partner in worse ways than they actually would have been if you were calm and collected when these things were said.
Dr Elizabeth Dorrance Hall has a PhD in conscious communication. This involves conflict. She believes that conflict provides opportunity for making change. That conflict gives you and your partner a chance to work on the problems in your relationship… to change and to grow together. What is important to keep in mind during an argument is that in a relationship you have to set aside your pride, something that I know from personal experience can be difficult in practice. You have to be open to your partner's suggestions, which may be difficult since these ‘suggestions’ can often come in the form of yelling, and resist the temptation to play some sort of blame table tennis in which the blame bounces from one side of the table to the other with more force each time in order for someone to come out victorious. You can't win an argument, if you think that is the case then both you and your partner have already lost. An argument is all about what you can take from it and if both sides aren’t aware of that then yes, I would agree with the opposing side that conflict is not healthy. However, it can be; and since it is inevitable to not have even the smallest spats in a relationship especially since our partner is often the primary recipient of our negative emotions even though it’s often not even directed towards them, it is crucial to be able to see an argument as a door opening rather than as door closing.
So, are conflicts necessary for healthy relationships? Well, conflict is difficult but it was Albert Einstein who said that in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity and I think that if you are able to recognize that opportunity then conflict won’t be seen as a setback but more as something to bring you both closer together.
About the author:
My name is Lou (they/them). I’m 15 years old and I love writing because it allows me to be a part of the change that I wish to see in the world.