Yesterday we were introduced to the first stage of a relationship which involves getting to know one another. Today we're going to discuss the 2nd stage which is Conflict. I like to go over these stages in my sessions with individuals and couples to demonstrate and emphasize why conflict is healthy, important and necessary in relationships.
So, why does conflict occur and why is it healthy? It's important for each person to open up and share their own thoughts, feelings and opinions, and to gently confront the other's thoughts, feelings and opinions. It is very important to share how you honestly feel and what you need in this stage. If someone hurts your feelings, or crosses a boundary with you, then it's very important to say so. This is what we call being congruent: what you feel on the inside matches what you show on the outside.
How comfortable each person is with conflict and how mature each person is emotionally will determine how long the couple stays in this stage. If you're a conflict avoider, then you might glide over the conflict quickly (but you won't resolve anything). If you don't know how to voice what you're feeling and ask for what you need, you might get caught up in this stage for longer than what's needed.
Without patience and grace during this stage, this is when most couples will fail. It's at this point in a relationship that we see alot of couples breakup or call it quits because it gets too hard or they get caught up in conflict that they can't resolve. Learning how to have healthy conflict is key so that this stage doesn't become destructive to the couple and lower motivation.
Once a couple is able to maneuver this stage, they can successfully move onto the next stage which is learning a "new normal". Please return to our blog as we discuss those specifics. Thanks for reading!
Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC LCAC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counselingat Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.