We can’t address conflict only in the context that it is a good and normal part of healthy relationships (like we did last week here). The caveat is that conflict can turn into a problem. So let’s talk about that.
Conflict becomes a problem when it becomes repetitive and regular and starts to weave a web into your daily life. The most significant indicator that conflict in a relationship has turned sour is noticeable by its frequency. Conflict isn’t like working out where you do it every day, and it just becomes an ordinary and necessary part of life—quite the opposite. If you are engaged in conflict every day, you’re going to get burned out, and that burnout is bound to lead to resentment or apathy, both of which are devastating to any relationship. So let’s talk about what to do when conflict takes over your life.
How much conflict is normal in a Relationship?
We can all tolerate a bit of discomfort when it comes to life and relationships. If we are constantly in search of rainbows and butterflies every day, we will be met with immense disappointment because that’s simply not life. Life has a natural cycle of ebbs and flows, which is part of what makes it beautiful and what makes us appreciate the good times. Relationships are the same; they evolve, some end and new ones form, and that’s normal. What’s not normal is stagnancy. And when your relationship is stuck in a rut of stagnancy, constant disagreement, and lacking fun, lighthearted adventures, it can start to feel like insanity. (like envisioning yourself getting in a car and driving off into the dark abyss just to escape your reality). Not very healthy, but the point is that it can make you feel trapped, stuck, and wedged between a rock and a hard place. So yes, there is a point at which conflict can tip beyond the scale of healthy and normal. We’d be fools not to address this. Here’s the thing, this tipping point is different for everyone because everyone handles conflict differently. Some embrace it, welcome it and embody conflict (odds are you know a few of these people). In contrast, others steer clear from even the slightest chance of it (and you probably know these guys too).
And while the nice person in me wants to say, “respect everybody and our differences” (which I do preach in most cases), the honest truth is this: No matter how comfortable you are or aren’t with conflict, we can only handle so much. And my ceiling might be different than yours. But the universal truth is this: If your partner can’t respect your space, viewpoint, and differences with grace, that is a good sign it’s time to move on.
Conflict is too much when…
- You no longer feel respected as a human
- You or your partner resort to hurtful name-calling and degrading comments
- Your partner blocks your right to peace and individuality
- It is always one-sided & your opinions aren’t valued
- There is a lack of personal accountability
- When there is manipulation and deceit involved
These things are at the cusp of the tipping point because you’re often dealing with a person with narcissistic qualities, and the odds of changing these behaviors are nearly impossible. I’m not saying that is true 100% of the time, but the odds are very much against you. If you want to learn more about narcissism and what it looks like, Mel Robbins has a podcast that you’ve got to check out here!
Conflict isn’t normal in relationships when it becomes regular. Good communication and good relationships need empathy and compassion to survive. So, if you sense that your partner doesn’t have the ability to have empathy, it might be time to reevaluate the relationship.