Resolve Partnership Conflicts © Martyn Carruthers 1998

Healthy and happy partnerships are not about finding a “perfect partner”.
They are about sharing values and resolving conflicts.

Many children’s stories end with, “they lived happily ever after”.
If you want a “happy ever after“, resolve your relationship conflicts.

Show your Love by Resolving Conflicts

What is love for you? Sexual chemistry? Feelings? Behaviors? Decisions? Whatever it is, most people want this magical adhesive. Yet good intentions are not enough. We need mature role models and experienced mentors for our love relationships

Can you and your partner discuss emotions without blaming, complaining, justifying or withdrawing? If you and your partner have enjoyed happy, mature parents, then resolving conflicts will feel natural and easy. And if you didn’t, it’s not too late.

Since our sessions with you we both talk about our feelings, we are both kinder,
and we show each other gratitude for little things. We never knew how important these are.

Were you trained in partnership skills? Good intentions do not magically resolve conflicts. Western adults often know a lot about sex, and little about kindness. Arabic and Oriental couples often know more about kindness, and less about sexuality.

Do unto others as they want you to do unto them!

We help couples solve a huge variety of partnership conflicts – about family members, money, sex, children, abuse, boundaries, health, stress, infidelity and much more. What part of partnership is without conflict?

Yet few of your fights or arguments may truly be with each other! Many fights and arguments are varieties of, “My mother’s opinion versus your mother’s opinion” or “I worry that you will act like my ex-partner” or “You remind me of …“, etc.

We help partners explore their needs, values and complaints – together. Conflicts will happen, so we teach people how to manage and use their conflicts to increase trust and improve cooperation. Here are some good Couple Communication Exercises.

We usually coach partners separately at first, to resolve individual issues, and then together, to solve couple problems. We help couples understand each other, define their partnership goals and develop plans to reach their goals together.

Practical love is resolving conflicts

After an infatuation or honeymoon phase of a partnership, conflicts become more obvious. Let’s take household chores. If you want your partner to do things differently, what do you do? Attack? Whine? Nag? Stop listening? Withdraw?

  The real reason for my divorce was my desperate desire to be right;
which reflected my father’s desperate need to be right.
My parents divorced when I was nine.

What are the consequences of avoiding conflicts? Probably you and your partner will feel more distant. You may both feel less understood and less intimate. Avoiding genuine resolution will likely increase the number and severity of future conflicts.

We focus on the feelings that motivate unwanted behaviors. We listen carefully and explore which emotions have what triggers. Often the real issues are conflicts from childhood or from past partnerships.

The benefits of resolving relationship conflicts include increased intimacy, satisfaction and understanding. Then we can coach couples to coach each other through conflicts until they are confident that they can deal with whatever comes up.

Will you stay together or split?

Can you attract – and be attracted to – a healthy partner?

Some women say, “Men should be more sensitive!” To men, that sounds like, “Men should be more like women“. Men may say, “Women should be more realistic!” Guess what that means to women. Generally, the more shoulds – the less happiness.

We promised God that we would stay together … but our love slowly degenerated into
a respect for each other that would be more appropriate for two old enemies.

Real partners have real conflicts. If you are in a relationship without arguments or conflicts – perhaps you are still on a honeymoon … or maybe you are only having an affair … or perhaps you are both hiding emotions and staying together for some other reason than sharing intimacy.

Avoiding truths and telling lies is not likely to help. You may gain a few days peace – at the high price of losing trust. (Telling the truth often requires massive trust).

It’s unlikely that you and your partner will agree on every detail. Do you resolve conflicts, or do you just hide them? If you appear to have no conflicts, it is likely that one or both are hiding unpleasant emotions and avoiding important issues.

Common Relationship Conflicts
Raising children
Differing maturity
Money and budgets
Different expectations
Interfering parents
Suspected infidelity
Sexual compatibility
(S)he won’t listen to me
Driving habits
Different values
Household chores
(S)he avoids conflicts

Many people delay resolving conflicts until their pent-up emotions seem to explode over apparently trivial details. If you continually use distractions to avoid solving conflicts, you may be setting yourselves up for alienation and separation.

Check your partnership skills, see Patterns of Partnership

Healthy Partnership Partnership in Crisis
Partners often show appreciation and
gratitude to each other
One or both are often dissociated, irritated, depressed, critical or show contempt
Partners respond to most verbal and
nonverbal communications
One or both ignore, avoid or shorten
most communications
Partners review events in their history They rarely review their relationship history
Partners greet after time apart and ask about each other’s activities and other news They rarely interact when together,
without even silent intimacy
Partners enjoy meeting each other’s needs for passion, intimacy and commitment One or both often ignore or criticize
the other’s goals and needs
Partners discuss goals and dreams, finding shared values and creating shared meanings. They rarely discuss goals, dreams,
values or meaning.
Partners often go out together One or both generally prefer to go out alone
Partners create projects which
require committed cooperation
One or both often avoid, ignore or give
small attention to shared projects
They wish to stay together to enjoy sharing partnership and parenthood happiness One or both want to separate but do not because of guilt, fear or other constraints
They respect most of each other’s choices and decisions, and discuss differences One or both show contempt for the other’s decisions and angrily demand changes
Partners both want happiness together One or both prefer to be apart


Continued at Couples 2

Do you want to manage your emotions and solve partnership issues?