A relationship/marriage can benefit from a conflict, and in fact, conflict can help you to achieve a healthy relationship/marriage. Therefore, conflict in itself is actually not a bad thing, but it is how you resolve the conflict that will determine whether it is good or bad for your relationship/marriage.


Conflict in a relationship/marriage happens because you have differences with the other person. Many believe that conflict can destroy the relationship/marriage; therefore people try to avoid it, thinking that it will help to keep the peace in the relationship/marriage. In fact, avoiding conflict will hinder a deeper understanding of the other person, which will make your relationship/marriage shallow or unable to grow stronger and healthier. Instead, having conflict actually shows how much trust you have in your relationship/marriage because you have the gut to speak your mind

Here are some common contributing factors to conflict: 

– Emotional shortage – some people are unable to emotionally respond to others. They may not be emotionally educated or modelled by their parents in their upbringing. This can be a significant problem because a relationship/marriage is an emotional relationship.

– Different values, beliefs and views – especially if it’s the core one, which often some do not want to compromise.

– Goals – you might have different and changed goals along the way of your relationship.

– Situation changed – the situation of your life can sometimes change involuntarily. Some people cannot cope with these life changes, which often wears down the relationship/marriage.

– The “content” versus the “process” – some try hard in explaining what it is that creates the conflict, rather than how that conflict makes each other feels.


Resolving a conflict in a relationship/marriage is possible providing both parties want to sit down and discuss it together, as it takes two to tango. Attending and resolving a conflict will increase your understanding of each other, which will help you achieve a healthier relationship/marriage.

Here are some practical steps to achieve a positive outcome in resolving a conflict:

1. Focus on the desired or positive changes rather than the faults or the problems. It is an important factor to help you to be more open to listen and understand the other person and it will help you to approach it in a positive way – give the benefit of the doubt.

2. Stay focused on one problem, do not bring other issues that do not belong to the current problem.

3. Speak honestly and directly. This will require openness, vulnerability and transparency to enable you to understand each other. Trying to smooth things over and trying to use hints won’t help you or your partner to resolve what the real issue is.

4. Identify your contributing factor in this conflict, as it takes two to tango. This will challenge your pride, but as a result it will help you and your partner to be less critical of each other, thus enabling you to resolve your conflict better.

5. Use the “I” statement rather than “you” statement, eg. “I feel……because……” rather than “You haven’t…………/ You don’t…….”. Using the “I” statement helps the other person to not feel attacked or accused and feeling the need to react, but instead to be more inclined to respond.

6. Avoid the question “Why?” and don’t generalise by using the word “never” or “always”– as these will trigger the other person to be defensive. Instead you can replace it with, for instance, “Can you please help me to understand what makes you do that or think that way…..”, or “often” or “most of the time”.

7. Agree to disagree, there are times where some conflicts cannot be resolved and you just need to agree to disagree and learn to accept it and move on for the sake of your relationship/marriage.

9. Sometimes there are situations that cannot be changed, which means you are the one who needs to change yourself, with the hope that it may help the other to change too. It is understandable if you find it very challenging and it will require you to have perseverance.


– The tone of voice – your tone of voice will make a huge difference in resolving a conflict, e.g an angry voice won’t help to resolve a conflict, particularly when you say that you are not angry.

– The timing, choose the right timing when you want to solve a problem. Hence, when you are in a heated moment, you need to manage your anger first and use  self-talk to defuse your anger.

– The non-verbal, your body language will send messages and sometimes it will speak louder than your words, therefore your body language needs to be congruent with your words.

– Do not explain for too long, because there is only so much the other person can retain of what you are saying, so try to say the key issues only. Sometimes elaborating your point too much will create more misunderstanding.

– There are times when people cannot resolve their conflict alone. Do not wait until the conflict in your relationship grows deeper. Seeking professional help through an experienced Marriage/Relationship Counsellor or Psychotherapist will help you get a better result before it’s too late.

Are you struggling in resolving a conflict in your relationship or marriage? Or are you unable to see a good outcome to a conflict in your relationship/marriage? What is your deepest fear in resolving a conflict? Please use this column to ask any questions you have regarding your conflict.