Conflict In Relationships: Causes And Ways To Manage

Written by Harini Natarajan , Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner

Relationships are made when two people with a different set of values and often varying personalities come together. When two such people live together, they can end up in conflict, especially when they are not completely aware or accepting of their differences.

The root of these conflicts can lie in their differences of opinions, tastes, perspectives, experiences, personalities, or beliefs.

In this post, we explore more about the types of relationship conflicts, their causes and effects, and how you can manage them effectively. Keep reading.

Understanding Conflicts In Relationships

A conflict in a relationship is defined as any kind of disagreement, struggle, or a heated debate between two people in a relationship. It typically includes an argument or continuous disagreements on an ongoing issue – like managing household chores or the ways of spending money.

Conflicts in a relationship can be very stressful, but they can also help make relationships strong. Essentially, conflicts between people make them aware of the problems in their relationships and how they can address them effectively.

It is essential to know the causes of conflicts to deal with them healthily. We have discussed the same in the next section.

Main Causes Of Conflicts In Relationships

Partners can have disagreements for various reasons. One of the most common causes of relationship conflicts is a complete difference in personalities and values. Following are a few other causes:

1. Power And Control

Wanting to have control and power over people is one of the main causes of relationship conflicts. This generally happens when one person enjoys feeling superior to another.

The solution, however, is to try putting yourself in your partner’s shoes instead of trying to control them. What couples need to remember here is that intimidation drives out any intimacy in the relationship, while empathy and respect for each other encourage it.

2. Selfishness

We often get so obsessed with our desires that we forget how our decisions affect others. This is true for any kind of relationship. In relationships, couples often have conflicts when one partner fails to think of the other person when making decisions.

Being selfish and unable to respect the needs of the other person can make a healthy relationship impossible.

3. Criticism

A relationship where your partner criticizes everything you do is plain annoying. It can be equally frustrating if your partner blames you for everything. This is a sign of major trouble in the relationship.

4. Lack Of Communication

Communication is a crucial element in every relationship. However, communicating in an unhealthy relationship can result in arguments and constant bickering. This can lead to tension and, as a result, an end to any further communication in the relationship.

Contrary to this, communicating the wrong way in the relationship can also cause conflicts.

5. High Expectations

In any relationship, when one partner fails to meet expectations, the other tends to feel betrayed and hurt.

To navigate the situation effectively, both partners need to keep their demands and expectations reasonable. They must always communicate with their partners to ensure they are on the same page.

6. Resentment

If one partner offends the other for some reason, the other individual often fails to communicate the pain they felt. The latter is likely to keep those negative emotions in their mind and heart, leading to resentment.

What is needed here is to evaluate the root cause of the resentment. At times, the partner will seem upset but will not tell why. They also become distant, causing the other individual to think that they are not interested in the relationship.

These are the causes of relationship conflicts. Let us understand the different types of these conflicts.

Various Types Of Relationship Conflicts

1. Finances

Relationship conflicts revolving around money are common. These can be anything from how you save, spend, or budget money as a couple.

2. Household Responsibilities

This conflict is associated with the delegation or distribution of household chores. It happens when one partner contributes more towards taking care of basic household chores and responsibilities than the other. This can breed resentment and lead to conflicts.

3. Improper Communication

Conflicts around communication can happen when both partners yell at each other and get into heated arguments.

4. Personal Intimacy

This type of conflict revolves around sexual needs/desires. It is often caused when one partner’s sexual needs/desires greatly vary from those of the other.

5. Insecurity

When one of the partners in the relationship constantly feels insecure, this can cause arguments, bickering, and conflicts. In extreme cases of insecurity, it can also lead to all kinds of accusations that make any conversation difficult.

Are you wondering what effects such conflicts can have on relationships? Read the next section to find out.

Effects Of Conflicts And Stress On Relationships

Conflict in relationships can lead to a significant amount of stress between the partners. The ongoing stress can negatively affect the health and well-being of both partners. It can also lead to anxiety, depression, and a drop in sleep quality.

Other effects of relationship conflicts can include:

  • Unhappiness and less satisfaction with the relationship
  • Emotional and physical withdrawal from everything
  • Lack of interest to work on conflict resolution strategies
  • Various types of insecurities
  • Harmful physical behavior, in extreme cases, like violence

Conflict triggers some very strong emotions that can lead to disappointment, feelings of hurt, and discomfort. When handled in an unhealthy manner, they can lead to irreparable rifts and breakups.

How can someone deal with conflicts healthily? Let us explore in the next section.

Ways To Deal With Conflict In Relationships

Disagreements in a relationship are common. But what matters is how you choose to deal with them. The way you tackle an issue with your partner can determine how healthy or unhealthy your relationship is. Here are some tips to help you healthily handle your next argument.

1. Maintain A Calm And Respectful Demeanor

When facing a relationship conflict, make sure to not cross lines or start insulting your partner. Instead, the need is to stay calm and focus on the dispute or issue at hand.

Bringing personal jibes into an argument can make things worse. Irrespective of what caused the issue, it is best to stay away from yelling, shouting, or cursing at the other person.

2. Create A Welcoming Environment For Open And Transparent Communication

The sign of a healthy relationship is when you and your partner can respectfully communicate openly about what is wrong in the relationship, what is bothering you, or what is going well.

It is essential to talk about the issues in the relationship and what is going right to motivate each other.

If, at any point, you feel like you cannot talk openly about certain aspects like kids, money, or aspirations, it could be a sign your relationship is not healthy.

3. Find Some Middle-Ground

One of the best ways to deal with a conflict in a relationship is finding a middle ground. It is important to strike a balance between what both partners want and are comfortable with.

If both partners care about making the relationship work, they need to agree on various issues without feeling like they are sacrificing for the relationship to work.

Learning to compromise is one of the best ways to resolve a conflict in a relationship, and it might be easier than you think. For instance, if you constantly disagree on money matters, it is best to control the finances alternatively and see who manages them better at the end. Or, if you feel your partner is not contributing to household work, allocate tasks and ask them to help out.

4. Pick Your Battles Wisely

To navigate a tense situation effectively, make sure to pick your battles wisely. If you realize in the middle of an argument or disagreement that you and your partner are fighting over something minor, consider backing down or just laughing it off. For instance, fighting or arguing about which TV show to watch is not something you should waste your time and energy on.

5. Be Direct In Your Approach

Make sure to be direct and state what is bothering you instead of choosing indirect ways to express your unhappiness or displeasure. Beating around the bush without directly approaching the problem or being evasive can make the situation worse.

Indirect ways of expressing your anger are not constructive as they do not give the person a clear idea of how to respond to the situation. While they know that their partner is irritated and distressed over something, the lack of directness in communication leaves them without any clue or guidance about what went wrong or what they can do to solve the issue at hand.

6. Talk To Professionals

If at any point you feel that your relationship conflicts are getting out of hand, seek professional help. If you and your partner cannot stop fighting over trivial issues, it probably is a sign that you need expert intervention to help improve your relationship and understand each other better.


In general, conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship as no two people are expected to agree on everything all the time. However, the key is not to get bogged down or try to avoid conflict but to learn how to resolve it in the healthiest way possible.

By following the tips mentioned above about conflict resolution in relationships, you can handle conflicts in a much healthier and constructive way and build a more fulfilling relationship with your partner.

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