Conflict Resolution

Two people arguingConflict will happen in a relationship.  You can take action to minimize the conflict – chose a partner who has similar values, don’t sweat the small stuff, keep the romance going – but arguments will still happen.  You need two things to resolve conflict.


Stop thinking in terms of win-lose and start thinking in terms of win-win.  You must be willing to be flexible and together come up with a solution that makes both of you happy.  This may take some negotiation and creativity.

Communication Skills

To resolve the conflict happily for both people requires skills.  You must be able to state your needs and wants without triggering you partner to become defensive.  You must be able to listen to your partner without becoming defensive.  The key is assertive behavior.  Are you Assertive, Passive or Aggressive?

Passive, Agressive or Assertive?

How do you get your needs met?  Do you—

  • Let other people mow over your boundaries (passive)?
  • Mow over other people’s boundaries (aggressive)?
  • Respect other people’s boundaries while maintaining your own (assertive)?

If you want to learn how to get your needs met and strengthen your relationships at the same time, then learn assertive communication skills.

Next: Passive

Passive Behavior

Woman yelling at passive manWhen you are passive you fail stand up for yourself. You allow your rights to be violated.


  • Indirect, hidden bargains, emotional dishonesty
  • You feel hurt, anxious, possibly angry later
  • The other person feels guilty or superior
  • Fails to achieve goals
  • Other person chooses for you


  • “I guess I’m just stupid.”
  • “I don’t want to bother the clerk who short-changed me.”
  • “It’s not a problem.  I’ll stay late and finish up so you can leave early.”
  • “Sorry, I don’t have any gas in my car, and, uh, my tire may be flat.”

Back: Passive, Aggressive or Assertive?

Next: Aggressive

Aggressive Behavior

Aggressive man shouting through bullhorn into woman's earWhen you are aggressive you stand up for yourself in a way that violates the rights of  another person.


  • Domineering
  • You feel righteous and superior
  • The other person feels hurt, humiliated, angry and vengeful
  • Achieves goals by hurting others and making enemies
  • You make choices for the other person
  • Aims for “I win—you lose”


  • “You make me angry!”
  • “Don’t be stupid.”
  • “Cut the noise.  Now!”
  • “You never pick up after yourself.”

Back: Passive

Next: Assertive

Assertive Behavior

Couple talking assertivelyWhen you are assertive you stand up for yourself in a way that does not violate the rights of  another person.


  • Direct
  • You feel confident and self-respecting
  • The other person feels valued and respected
  • May achieve your goals
  • Each person chooses for themselves

How to Be Assertive

  • Aim for Win-Win
  • Make “I” statements
  • Express your wants, needs, feelings and ideas
  • Allow others to express their wants, needs, feelings and ideas
  • Use open, direct body language


  • “I would like to talk to you about <fill in the blank>.”
  • “I am angry right now.”
  • “I do not have time to take you to the store right now, but I can later today.”
  • “Hello.  I live above you and your music is very loud. Would you turn it down, please?”

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Texting

Texting can be a useful and fun part of a healthy relationship.  But texting can also cause problems.  Here are the 3 serious texting problems that I encounter with my clients –

  1. Misunderstandings.  Don’t expect texting to result in perfect communication.  Do clarify when you think your partner is being hurtful.
  2. Excessive Texting Don’t send 50 texts in one hour.  Do use texting to strengthen your relationship.
  3. Emotional Affairs.  Don’t let a text lead to the destruction of your relationship. Do use texting appropriately with friends, coworkers and associates.

These are some of the texting pitfalls to avoid.  Be careful and enjoy texting!

See also:  5 Rules for Texting in a Healthy Relationship

Emotional Affairs

Texting affairIt can start innocently enough.  A friendly call or text to a coworker or mutual friend.  But it can lead to an emotional affair, sexting, or even a physical affair.  Keep these thoughts in mind—

  • Be aware.  Am I doing this to be friendly, or am I hoping for something more?
  • No secrets.  If your texting is truly innocent, then there should be no problem letting your partner know what you are doing.
  • Choices. What is most valuable to me?

Couples come in to my office on the brink of a breakup, all because of an affair that started with a text.  Don’t let a phone ruin your relationship!

Previous: Excessive Texting

Excessive Texting

Too many textsIf you send 50 texts in an hour and don’t get a response, you are texting too much.  Remember your partner can not always respond immediately.

Usually when I see a client who practices excessive texting, it represents emotional insecurities.  These cannot and should not be dealt with by texting.

If you feel insecure about your relationship because your partner has actually cheated on you in the past, then that is something that must be worked out between the two of you in therapy, not via texting.  But often I find that the insecurity relates to the a person’s past issues and has little or nothing to do with their current partner.  If you are in this situation, then you must work through these issues before you can have a healthy relationship.  All your partner can offer is support and understanding.  The hard work is up to you!

Next: Emotional Affairs

Back: Misunderstandings When Texting

Misunderstandings When Texting

Talking Is More Than Words

When we talk to someone face-to-face—

  • We see expressions
  • We see body language
  • We hear emotion
  • We see gestures.

This is a two-way street – we see them and they see us.

Texting Is Mainly Just Words

Give your partner a break!  Don’t assume you know exactly what they meant from a few words on the screen.


If you feel hurt or belittled, wait until you see them to clarify.  What you thought you read may not be what they thought they wrote.

Next: Excessive Texting

5 Rules for Texting in a Healthy Relationship

Woman reading textThese simple rules will strengthen your relationship.

  1. Have a Purpose. 
    • Reminders  – “Remember dinner tonight at your favorite restaurant!”
    • Arrangements – “I’ll pick you up at 7.”
    • Flirt – “I love to touch your hand!”
  2. Moderation.  If you both are bored and have time on your hands, then text away.  Get to know each other.  But if one of you is busy and facing deadlines, forget about it!  Sometimes you don’t even have a thumb free.
  3. Keep it Light. Serious messages need to be in person or on the phone.
  4. Keep it Short.  Long messages belong in emails.
  5. Be Understanding.  Each of you has different needs and styles of communicating.  If you think your partner has texted something insensitive, remember, text messages are easy to misinterpret.  Clarify in person or on the phone.

With these 5 simple rules, texting can make your relationship stronger and better!

See also:  3 Mistakes to Avoid When Texting