Love With Lucy: A Relationship Column


Communication is key when it comes to conflict resolution in any relationship.

Lucy Muhic , Staff Writer

In this day and age, keeping long term, healthy relationships seem like a challenge for most. With all of the technology and social media we have at this point, the idea of staying in a relationship with one person is not as appealing to everybody as it once was. It is not often that you see a couple willing to work together to keep their relationship strong and lasting. A lot of people have a tendency to give up the first time things get hard or something doesn’t go perfectly how one wanted it to. However, nothing is ever going to be completely perfect in a relationship (of any kind: romantic partner, friends, family, etc.), and holding that idea for one of your own relationships will only be cause for disaster. This leads to one of the largest causes of breakups as we know it: a lack of communication. That might sound obvious, but communication truly is the key to keeping a healthy relationship. 


Communication is the only way you and your partner can really know what the other is feeling; unfortunately, most of us can’t read minds. You have to talk to them and tell them when something bothers you, when you have something going on internally and need some space, or when you get into a fight and know you were in the wrong. You have to open yourself up to them and give them a chance to do the same for you. 


I talked with a couple’s therapist, Rachel Croce and her experience says,”Underneath conflicts that are what I call ‘content-heavy’ there are almost always deeper emotional fears and hurts. With couples and individuals, I might encourage them to identify their underlying fears and hurts, and communicate those to their partner. For example, I help them identify the behavior  that triggered the hurt/underlying emotion, and also help them identify the need that went unmet.” 


If you want your relationship to work, you have to work on it together. The biggest thing to remember in any type of conflict is that it is you and your partner against the problem not against each other. Just remember that you both have a different side to any situation and you need to allow each other to discuss what each side is and attempt to find some kind of compromise or solution that is okay with both parties. It is critical to not forget about the fact that your partner has feelings too. It isn’t just about you, you and your partner are in it together, so conquer the issues together. 


One of the other big mistakes people often make is inadvertently taking out your own personal struggles with stress or other problems of concern on your partners instead of communicating with them and handling the situation. Croce spoke about mistakes people make in going about resolving a conflict.


“One of the biggest mistakes I see is being emotionally reactive which looks like anger, frustration, or numbness and not identifying the more vulnerable feelings of hurt, fear, abandonment, etc. And the inability to communicate those underlying thoughts, feelings, and needs.” Your emotions can flood your judgement and when feelings get involved you tend to lash out even when it is, most of the time, uncalled for. You take out your own troubles on your partner and forget that they aren’t responsible for what you are experiencing.

“Blaming the other person for how you feel can be a trap that makes it hard to be heard and also makes it hard to have ownership in our own ability to choose how we want to and can respond to another person,” said Croce. That is exactly another place where communication is crucial so you are able to work through the problem together and not let it be the thing that splits you apart. 


The thing to take away is that stressors are a part of everyday life, but if you want to make a relationship last you have to be willing to put in the work even when you don’t feel like making the effort. You have to let your partner into your life and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Share your thoughts and feelings and come together to face your problems and build your relationship upon that. Respect the other person, take care of your relationship, and you can make it last. 


One other thing that can be important to consider is why it’s better to fix the relationship versus just looking for the next best thing. That is a decision that only you can make for yourself. You have to decide if it is worth it for you to keep trying or if it is something that is doing more harm than good. Relationships can be toxic and while you’re in them you can be oblivious to that idea. That is why it is significant that you analyze how you feel about the relationship and the other person and figure out what you want from it. It can be a determining factor in whether you still think your relationship is healthy for you and your partner. Know where you stand and make sure that it is still what you want. If it is then don’t give up, make it a priority to be with your partner and fix any conflict that may come between you two. However, if it is not then have a real talk with your partner, and do what feels right for you. Being honest with yourself is the only way either of you can find what will truly make you happy.