3 Ways Healthy Couples Handle Conflict Differently Than Everyone Else

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couple hugging

Ever wonder if you and your partner are handling conflicts healthily? Or perhaps your arguments spiral into toxicity, and you're seeking a better way to engage in more constructive conversations.

In a recent Instagram post, clinical psychologist Dr. Stan Tatkin delved into the key distinction in how healthy couples navigate conflict.

3 Ways Healthy, Secure-Functioning Couples Handle Conflict Differently Than Everyone Else

1. Secure-functioning couples go in and out of conflict easily.

Tatkin suggests that couples who breeze in and out of conflict easily, tend to manage conflict better. These couples have a mindset of, Better to get through this as quickly as possible and to do it skillfully,” says Tatkin.

While these couples argue like any other, it's how they handle those disagreements that make their relationship. And according to Tatkin's PACT Institute, healthy couples start conflict with friendliness.

They approach conflict with open body language and soft eyes. With a sing-song pitch, they never resort to insults or harsh language. Instead, they hold their partner's hand and keep showing affection, even during a difficult conversation.



While they're speaking the other partner attentively listens. Not interrupting, they express through their body language that they understand. They nod along showcasing their willingness to connect.

These couples never place blame on each other. When they feel emotional they use "I" statements to get their point across.

And when the conversation gets tough these couples know when to take breaks, says the PACT Institute. They take time to collect themselves before re-approaching the conversation.

Next, these couples know how to sincerely apologize. They open up their heart and take accountability for their past mistakes.

And if they mess up their apology they ask for a do-over. They say, "I'm sorry, that came out the wrong way. Can I try again please," says the PACT Institute.

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2. Secure-functioning couples are able to shift from one thing to the other easily.

When we stay trapped in conflict there's no hope for a healthy resolution. As Tatkin says, healthy couples “know how to be playful during conflict, know how to win without the other person losing.”

Whether someone is right or wrong doesn't matter to this couple. The Center For Couples Counseling explains that the main point is to find a solution that is fair for both partners.

By listening to each other, healthy couples honor one another's viewpoints. They stay focused on the issue at hand and never bring up past arguments.



As the Center For Couples Counseling says, “When we bring up repeated issues from the past during present-day conflicts, it takes away from our desired point we are trying to make.”

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3. Secure-functioning couples never ruin the day with a fight.

Do you ever let a minor spat with your spouse ruin your entire day? Tatkin suggests that healthy couples refuse to let petty arguments have that kind of power.



These couples know when it's time to take a step back. According to speaker, coach, and consultant Rob Kendall, these couples understand how to observe reactions and respond accordingly. Enabling them to change course when needed.

Next, these couples calm down before they make a decision. Have you ever made a decision based on your emotions? Nine times out of ten that never works out.

By allowing yourself to calm down you can better navigate conflict. Lastly, healthy couples always ask, "What’s important to me in this conversation," says Kendall.

Figuring out what you want can make reaching your goals a whole lot smoother. And when your actions match your thoughts, you'll find yourself more open to compromise for the sake of reaching that end goal.

By grasping what healthy couples do during conflict, we can implement their techniques into our relationships! Paving the way for a healthier and more harmonious dynamic.

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Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.