Handling Hard Conflict For Gay Couples

Managing conflict is one of the most common reasons that couples struggle. The aftereffects of handling hard conflict tends to result in couples either reaching a tipping point, or going into systematic shutdown. There might be extreme volatility, where yelling, slamming doors, and screaming at each other become the norms. The other can be true as well, where the couple just completely disengages, and no longer communicates or talks to each other about their lives, perceptions, and even dreams.

Money, jealousy, household chores, and time spent together are all examples of what can lead to these conflicts. Regardless of whether the couple is struggling with shutdown or volatility, the theme remains the same. There is no resolution. Feelings of frustration and hopelessness increase, and the couple is faced with whether or not they want to make this work.

For gay couples, these common areas of dispute can mean the end of the relationship. Research suggests that gay couples tend to be happier overall. However, it also suggests that these couples are more likely than straight couples to split over their disagreements. Thus, it’s important for these couples to have a solid foundation to work through their disagreements and conflicts. This will help to prevent these couples from prematurely splitting up in a way that they will regret down the road.

Here are some things you can do enhance your odds for success:

  • Take time outs. When you feel the heat rising too much, it makes good sense to separate with a promise to calm down, think over what you’re angry about, and come back in an agreed on time to talk about solutions.
  • Set a time to talk about anything. It’s easy to get into a routine where you don’t notice that your partner is fuming. It’s even easier to go without noticing that your partner is shutting down. Healthy couples make their relationship a priority and agree on a regular date to talk about what’s on your minds.
  • Know the rules of your relationship. What are the rules regarding sex, money, time spent together, and time spent apart? So many couples have strong opinions about these issues, yet they never talk about them. Know these rules, and discuss them with your partner.
  • Replace conflict with discussion. The word “confrontation” can keep people from discussing their relationship issues. Rather than thinking about it in terms of a confrontation, think about it as a discussion where you can be curious about your partner’s position and feelings surrounding the the topic.
  • Never get violent. Most people think of domestic violence in terms of heterosexual couples, but gay couples can fall into that trap, too. The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2013 that 40 percent of gay men reported being in an abusive relationship, compared with 21 percent of straight men. That number may be low, since victims may feel personal shame or fear stigmatizing the gay community. In addition, services for gay survivors are skimpy. Bottom line, abuse (physical or emotional, financial or social) is never OK and you need to GET OUT if your relationship heads that way.

Though these sound simple, they are much more difficult to discuss than you might think. If your relationship struggles with conflict, then these issues can help your relationship. Whether you’re in a relationship that is high in anger and confrontation, or one that is distant and avoidant, these tips are helpful to keep in mind.

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