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  • Fe Robinson

Addressing conflict in couples counselling

However much Hollywood or Disney persuade otherwise, it’s not realistic to believe you can have a relationship and not have any conflict within it. Life is not simple, and nor is intimacy. Everyone encounters stresses and strains, and when you’re in a relationship the relationship does too. Intimacy includes the art of differing well, and being able to have extremely challenging conversations that strengthen, not weaken, your relationship.

As a couples counsellor working online and in person in Darlington, North-east of England my work is focused on helping people to communicate more effectively, which involves understanding the patterns that underlie the communication difficulties that the couple is having. Seldom is an argument just about what is being argued about in the moment, most often it is an example of a deeper or wider difficulty. When you can understand and resolve these underlying patterns, dealing with conflict becomes much easier.

Esther Perel posed some excellent questions on a blog she shared recently, they are well worth working through with your partner to get a better understanding of how you come to be where you are in terms of patterns of conflict. She asked:

  • How would you describe your style of fighting?

  • What did you learn about fighting in your family of origin?

  • What are some of the recurring conflicts you experience?

  • How do you know the difference between a good fight and a bad fight?

  • What is your process of repair?

  • If you could learn to fight better, what might it look like?

If you’re experiencing ongoing conflict in your relationship, it’s important to not just continue treading the same old path. If you do, you will keep getting the same results. Stepping back and considering what is really going on may well liberate you both to explore different ways of relating, uncovering new paths from the undergrowth of old conflicts.

If it feels like an impartial observer may be useful to help you uncover what has been going on, and work towards what you would rather have, couples counselling may be useful. Enacting your conflict with a third there is an interesting experience, it changes things, and often brings into the room the respect and care that can be lost when you argue like no-one’s watching. Conflict resolution is an important relational skill, if you need help in boosting it in your relationship, get in touch on 01325 467042 or at for online couples counselling or couples counselling in Darlington.

Here’s a reminder of some useful questions to ask yourself if you are considering couples counselling:

couple lying on the floor
Lying down when arguing can take the heat out of the dialogue


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