Managing conflict

Top three tips for managing conflictConflict is a natural part of relationships. It is normal for couples to experience an increase in arguments and tension during pregnancy and following childbirth.

You can’t always pre-empt or fix everything that goes wrong, but it’s important to try to resolve small conflicts before they escalate into major rifts.

Managing conflict well will benefit your child/children.

Top 3 tips for managing conflict

  1. Agree to raise problems at a good time and place, when there are no other competing demands, e.g., when your children are in bed. If your partner doesn’t want to talk about the issue at the time it is first raised, schedule another time to discuss it.
  2. Express your needs without criticising. Be mindful of what you say, and how you say it, as it may influence how your partner responds.
  3. Take responsibility for your own behaviour and its impact.

How to use ‘I’ statements

When you want to let your partner know what you are thinking or how you are feeling without being aggressive, it can be useful to use ‘I’ statements. These follow a general formula:

“I feel… when… I’d feel better if…”

For example, instead of saying,

“You don’t make any time for us anymore”

say “I feel lonely when we spend less time together. I’d feel better if we scheduled a date night.”

Instead of saying,

“You just sit down and watch TV while I have to get the dinner ready and look after the children!”

say, “I feel frustrated when the kids are in the kitchen and I’m trying to make dinner. I’d feel better if you took them outside to play”

ACTIVITY: Practice “I statements”

Use the exercises below to practice being assertive – it can be tricky to put into action so the more practice the better!

REFLECT: Using I statements in “real life”

Reflect on something that you having difficult communicating to your partner and practice what you might say.


RELATED: Talking about tricky things

Problem solving as a team

Seeking professional help


Last reviewed 24 April 2016