Manage conflict through friendship

You may be surprised to learn that happier couples do not argue less than unhappy couples. What sets the two groups apart is that happy couples repair each other during and after a fight, while in unhappy relationships, couples tend to increase negativity through criticism, contempt, defense, and the wall (The Four Horsemen). Repairs are ways to slow down and slow down negative conversations. Dr. John Gottman argues that a couple’s ability to repair is the key to a successful relationship.

What helps you repair a fight? It’s the quality of your friendship.

Even when couples have a quieter, more productive conflict, that doesn’t really reduce it in terms of relationship satisfaction. You need to feel that you are in a relationship with someone you really like, who cares about you, notices and expresses gratitude for the positive qualities, and is willing to put the needs of the relationship ahead of their own. These are the aspects of friendship that were pointed out in the research as observable patterns in happy couples. It is also the parts of the relationship that need to be strong for reparation attempts to work when there is a conflict.

Couples in conflict

Let me explain how this works. For example, you haven’t asked your partner a question about yourself in the last month. Focus on the little things that bother you about your partner. Tired and stressed, you’re on the phone in the evening, ignoring requests to hang out together.

. And then you forget to pick up your child’s recipe, after promising he would. How much worse will this struggle be after the last month of ignoring, criticizing, and checking? Do You Think You Will Get the Benefit of Doubt or Understanding? Probably not.

Instead of focusing on ways to communicate better, sometimes the solution is to work on your connection between them out of conflict. Rebuilding friendship requires partners to look for the good in each other and the relationship. Then verbally express gratitude and gratitude for the things you have do I like, do admire, i do appreciate. Asking questions, getting interested, starting new connection rituals are powerful ways to rebuild friendship.

Being able to make and receive reparation attempts when you’re in a fight requires both partners to feel like they’re in an argument with a friend, not someone looking for them. If you feel liked, known, and appreciated by your partner, you are much more likely to accept a statement of reparation such as “Can you rephrase it?” in an argument. If your friendship is difficult, you are more likely to see this statement as an attempt to control yourself, the repair will fail, and the negativity will increase.

How to rebuild friendship

Look for the good. Even if you feel compelled at first, strive to find out what your partner is doing right. Express your gratitude and appreciation, even when it seems trivial. This builds goodwill in your relationship, which will help you cope with difficult things.

Ask open-ended questions. Recognize that your partner is changing and evolving, just like you. Be curious about who your partner is now and who she is becoming. Keep asking questions about hopes, dreams, desires, and desires. Partners who feel known to each other have a stronger friendship.

Turn to each other. Show yourself in a way that is meaningful to your partner. This could be emptying the dishwasher. An appointment may be planned with reflection. It’s easy to mis-communicate and get lost inadvertently when your partner tries to connect. This is normal. What we do know from research is that partners who turn to each other (enough) out of conflict are often able to make and receive reparation attempts much more easily.

Final thought

Restoring friendship is key to a positive reunion, but it is also essential to building an effective foundation for repairing negative moments. Friendship is as important as conflict management skills, and it is also an important part of improving conflict.


If you want to continue working on friendship in your relationship, attend the upcoming Art and Science of Love virtual event. This two-day workshop explores how to build a solid foundation with the Sound Relationship House. Enjoy research-based presentations and work sessions with therapists. Sign up today!

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