To make a long story short? No, I do not think conflicts are necessary for healthy relationships. But that does not mean they are unhealthy. In theory, it could be the case that two people are in a healthy relationship and never have any conflicts at all. But honestly, do any of us know those people? I don’t think so. Conflicts happen, and the thing that matters is how they are resolved. Of course, if conflicts are happening over and over again, or if they are over very serious issues, then you might need to focus in on those issues and consider whether the relationship will work long-term for you both. But it is completely normal not to be in total agreement all the time, or to find things you differ over.
Let’s have a look at some healthy conflicts. Let’s say your partner wants to spend x amount of time with you per week, but you are very busy. You suggest instead you spend a bit less time together because you can’t give up any of your existing commitments, but you do still value the relationship. Maybe instead of fighting over whether or not you value your relationship, or who is more important than who, you can sit down with your schedules and work out a weekend you could go away for a break, or which evenings you’re going to make into special date nights. Just the act of sitting down and showing you care will put the conflict on its way to being repaired.
Another incidence of conflict which can occur fairly often is over loyalty and honesty. Early in the relationship, you should lay down your explicit boundaries around how comfortable you are with casual flirting or talking with ex-partners. These are different boundaries for each couple, and it is a shame when relationships fall apart over preventable issues, just because partners were not engaged in dialogue early on in the relationship. A good way to make sure you are on the same page as your new partner is by looking through the ‘101 Practical Questions to Ask Each Other Before Getting Married’ on GoMarry.com. If you have not taken this step, and something comes up when you are already quite committed to each other, it can cause real trouble.
The way conflict is resolved is important. Are you content to move on, and are not going to bring it up as ammunition in a future disagreement? That suggests you have closure on the issue and have resolved it well. Alternatively, if you are finding it hard to let go of a fight and feel like you didn’t really get a satisfactory outcome – even if you tried to resolve it – it might need revisiting. It could even be worth doing so in the presence of a relationship or marriage counselor. Conflicts are completely normal in a relationship. Think about the number of times you might have disagreed with your parents or siblings growing up (even if you didn’t tell them at the time!). For most of us, we still care about our families, even though we might have all had our moments of conflict. That doesn’t mean we don’t love each other; it just makes us human.