In relationships, conflicts are normal; but fight fair

What you need to know:

Disagreement is part of any relationship. It is going to happen, but it does not have to lessen it. Having know-how around fighting fair can not only save a relationship, but also make sure you both get what you need and bring you closer.

It is said that even the best relationships end up having conflicts on various issues. Some of these may never be big enough to explode into a fight. However, it is during these moments of conflict that most of us become anxious and feel exposed and vulnerable in the relationship.

It is all about the power of erosion of trust and confidence in each other due to poorly handled conflicts. Here are some markers to be aware of; avoid using words that disrespect your partner. We have to understand the importance of respect for us not to get to a place of losing it.

Respect is key for building trust and the feeling of comradeship in the relationship. In addition, respect leads to either partner feeling accepted in the relationship. Affirmation has its roots in feeling validated and that one’s opinions and contributions matter to their partner.

It is important to also note that respect enhances a couple’s commitment to each other and their mutual convictions. Shared aspirations that are validated by the partner help promote stability in the relationship.

The lack of respect will demean and demoralise your partner. This will definitely send tell-tale signs of disillusionment and mistrust. The idea in relationships is to guard against any form of fear that tells one partner that they are no longer important and needed.

Also, avoid the self-righteous attitude that insists that you are always right. Although it is natural to get this feeling of seeing oneself as being always right, the truth is that most times this could be far from the truth. Our perspective of self and others affects how we live life with those around us.

Selfish attitude

When nurtured, this kind of attitude will easily promote aggressiveness when handling issues. In addition, this attitude provides good ground for manipulation and desire to control. Promoting a winner-takes-it-all attitude in relationships is not only selfish but reckless. With time, such an attitude will make the other partner feel excluded and less valued.

There is nothing as unfortunate as forcing your partner to change because somehow you are of the view that you remain the only righteous one around. This is absurdity at its best. Somehow, we have no idea that there are areas in our lives we will never know what they look like until someone tells us.

Consequently, our partners are the only honest mirror we can ever have only if they lived up to it. We all have weaknesses, fears, and vulnerabilities we keep as secrets. My motto in life has always been never correcting your partner in a way you will easily take offense if they used the same style of correction on you.


Lack of full and authentic disclosure including one’s movements and actions is also a big problem. What we fail to realise is that what we hide will one day turn and bite us. Former American president Abraham Lincoln said it best that, “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” Many marriages have in the end hurt deeply when dark secrets got revealed.

Turning every conversation into a moment to criticise your partner is both demeaning and unfair. Yes, they may have made mistakes but turning failures or mistakes into opportunities to harass your partner is wrong. In any relationship, either partner deserves to be heard or have their feeling on an issue appreciated and validated.

This is what builds ownership and belonging. I deserve to be told by my partner that they have heard and understood my point of view. After hearing each other out, the discussion can narrow to what makes the most sense without demeaning anyone. Additionally, talking about your partner negatively erodes more than builds the relationship. Correction, if needed should be done with love and respect.

Unrealistic expectations

Finally, setting unrealistic expectations for your partner is setting your partner to fail. Goals or expectations set must be ones that are reasonable and attainable by either partner. I agree, in a relationship, each partner brings along their experiences, perspectives, values and expectations.

What we need to watch out for is the motive behind the expectations we set for ourselves or others. It is unrealistic to assume or blindly expect that our partner knows what we want. Further, it is wrong and inhuman to expect others to fulfil for us what we imagine to be doable. The truth is, every partner is different and gifted differently.

Great relationships build their future on realistic and attainable expectations. Such expectations include supporting each other regardless of the circumstances of life, showing mutual trust in each other and respecting each other’s views, feelings and concerns. Maybe you can add your own healthy expectations to these.

Stop going around in circles

Cycles become vicious ones before you know it. If you or your partner are repeating the same things, you are stuck in a loop. People repeat things because they do not feel heard. Slow things down and communicate to your partner your understanding of their side of things.

Then hopefully they will slow down to hear yours. If you are the one who is not feeling heard, try finding a different way to say it and check that you are not too much on the attack.

When nothing seems to work

Sometimes, despite our best fair-fighting efforts, a disagreement or conflict seems insurmountable. When this occurs, talking with a trained professional can help. A trained mediator, such as a counsellor, can help you communicate more effectively and eventually work your way through to a solution.