Bookmark and Share
relationship advice

Signs of a healthy relationship

Handling disagreements effectively

Handling conflict and disagreements in a relationship 

In every relationship, people have disagreements, but in a relationship that is struggling, you will find the partners disagreeing regularly about a range of things-for example, money, friends, in-laws, child rearing, and sex.

Successful couples reduce disagreements by avoiding making provocative remarks when discussing difficult topics. They also know how to prevent a minor disagreement escalating into a row.

Watch this video by Michele Weiner-Davis about what couples argue about and how the way they handle disagreements changes over time.


Avoid Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling

Here are some things that you can try to ensure that you handle your disagreements in a way that does not damage the relationship:

Accept that it is normal for two people to have different views, ideas, and positions on certain things in any relationship.

Try to see the world from your partner's perspective to understand where they are coming from.

Don't dig yourself into a hole in arguments--be prepared to compromise and change to reach common ground and make things better.

Prevent disagreements turning into full blown arguments by avoiding the "Four Horseman of the Apocalypse" behaviors--criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Watch John Gottman's video about the things not to do when you disagree about something.


Use anger and frustration to help understand and tackle what needs to be improved in the relationship.

Ask your partner to tell you when you are being inconsiderate and insensitive.

Watch this video by John Gottman where he talks about what couples fight about.