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Navigating Relationship Conflicts: Building Bridges to Understanding and Connection

In a healthy relationship, occasional disagreements are normal, and they don’t undermine the mutual support between partners.


John and Julie Gottman (2024) have over 35 years of marriage experience as psychologists and have seen that, during conflicts, it’s crucial to embrace vulnerability, shifting away from defensive postures to openness and self-disclosure. Using a constructive language during conflicts is key for the happiest and most enduring relationships. This approach, focused on repair and cooperation, is something anyone can cultivate.


According to Gottman & Schwartz Gottman (2024) there are six categories of phrases, drawn from their observations of over 30,000 couples, that facilitate calming down and resolving conflicts: Expressing emotions, seeking calm, apologizing, taking a break, finding common ground, and showing appreciation.  


Expressing Emotions (Gottman & Schwartz Gottman, 2024):

  • “I’m feeling scared.”

  • “Please, say that more gently.”

  • “That hurt my feelings.”

  • “I feel blamed. Can you rephrase?”

  • “I feel like you don’t understand me.”


Expressing emotions in relationships is crucial for fostering understanding, intimacy, and connection between partners. Here’s some reasons why it’s important:


  • Communication: Emotions are a fundamental aspect of human experience, and expressing them allows individuals to communicate their emotions, they provide valuable insight into their needs, desires, and concerns effectively. When partners openly share their emotions, they provide valuable insight into their inner world, enabling their significant other to understand them better.

  • Validation and Empathy: Expressing emotions validates one’s experiences and feelings. When a partner expresses empathy and validates their significant other’s emotions, it fosters a sense of validation and emotional support, strengthening the bond between them.

  • Conflict Resolution: Emotions often play a significant role in conflict within relationships. By expressing emotions constructively, partners can address underlying issues, resolve conflicts more effectively, and prevent misunderstandings from escalating into larger problems (Burgreen, n.d.).

  • Building Trust: Openly expressing emotions creates an environment of trust and vulnerability within the relationship (Yoon, 2023). When partners start to feel safe to express themselves authentically, it cultivates a deeper level of trust, as they know they can rely on each other for emotional support and understanding.

Seeking Calm (Gottman & Schwartz Gottman, 2024):  

Apologizing (Gottman & Schwartz Gottman, 2024):

Taking a Break (Gottman & Schwartz Gottman, 2024)

Finding Common Ground (Gottman & Schwartz Gottman, 2024)

Showing Appreciation (Gottman & Schwartz Gottman, 2024):

References


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