Avoiding Conflict: 5 Reasons Why It Doesn’t Save But Sabotage Relationships
We cherish our relationships during their “honeymoon” phase because they, typically, are all about discovering new things about one another, bounding over similarities, and having fun.
Then, one day, conflict arises.
Not a little argument but a real conflict. And, suddenly, the honeymoon bubble bursts and you are faced with two options: dive into the conflict head first or bury your head in the sand and avoid, avoid, AVOID!
“We Never Fight”
Perhaps, you are a couple who never fights or you know that couple and are envious of them. Those types of couples do truly thrive in that they often have learned how to appreciate one another’s differences while celebrating what they share in common.
However, all couples experience conflicts that are difficult to solve in one sitting. These conflicts can be of family, finances, religion or beliefs, etc. No matter how big or small, avoiding conflict only sabotages your relationship.
How Avoiding Conflict Is Damaging Your Relationship
1) It can cause you or your partner to feel misunderstood or unvalued
When conflict arises and you go running scared, you are denying your partner from feeling that they can express their thoughts and feelings. Furthermore, you might misunderstand their position by making assumptions rather than talking it out.
2) It can derail the relationship from hitting milestones
A relationship cannot progress and build to new phases of intimacy if a couple can’t hammer out the big issues such as children, finances, goals, etc.
3) It can prevent intimacy
If you don’t feel comfortable expressing your feelings with your partner during a conflict, you will, most likely, have a more difficult time being intimate with them in other ways. You might even form an anxiety around intimacy or anxiety of feeling comfortable with showing your true self to others.
4) It can take small problems and makes them bigger
Unresolved conflicts, over time, become beasts that are too big to tackle. If your partner has a habit that is problematic for you and you say nothing, that can indicate to them that the behavior is acceptable and might lead them to adopt other, similarly bad habits.
Additionally, avoiding conflicts creates a closet of unresolved feelings. Once full, that closet will burst all at once—the damage being far greater than if each conflict would have been dealt with individually and while still relevant.
5) It can produce resentment between you and your partner
Silencing yourself in order to make your partner feel comfortable, only creates resentment that will slowly eat away at your relationship.
Resentment towards your partner makes you more critical of their behavior, encourages doubt, feeds distrust, and distracts you from appreciating all the qualities that made you fall in love with that person. Resentment, produced from holding onto issues, negates the joys first experienced when the relationship was new.
Is There Any Way to Make Conflict Less Uncomfortable?
Conflict does not have to feel crippling. It is true that no one loves to argue, but conflicts with your partner can be very healthy and productive experiences if dealt with in a proper fashion.
Some tips to employ during conflicts:
- Be an active listener
- Don’t mock or disregard your partner’s feelings though you may not agree with them
- Never call your partner names or curse at them during an argument
- Stick to one issue at a time
- Know when to seek a mediator, such as in therapy
You can discuss additional tools with your therapist in individual or couples counseling.
Although the “honeymoon” phase might be over, tackling your first major conflict with your partner is an important step towards continually fostering communication and intimacy in the relationship. Conflicts should not be considered as hindrances but necessary stops along the way towards building a strong and healthy relationship.