While few couples enjoy engaging in conflict, having a disagreement can be a positive experience, Muruge says. It helps you raise whatever doesn’t sit well with you, and gives your partner insight into what’s considered acceptable behaviour. The two of you can then come up with a solution that you both agree on. “If you don’t talk about whatever bothers you, then the situation won’t change and your relationship will suffer,” Muruge adds.
She offers the following tips:
Set the ground rules beforehand
That way, when conflict arises, you know what is acceptable behaviour and what isn’t. For example, respect should be a given, and that comes out in how you speak to each another. Shouting or throwing objects around would be unacceptable. “As a couple, set out some rules at the beginning of your relationship, so that if your partner doesn’t agree with those rules, then they can rather set you free to find your perfect match,” Muruge explains.
Think before you act
Don’t do or say something you might regret later. Also, don’t make decisions while you’re still angry and not exactly sure of what you want. Rather suggest a “time-out” to cool down before taking up the topic again. “Be sure about your decisions, so you don't regret your utterances and actions and end up suffering the consequences later on,” Muruge cautions.
READ MORE: Five relationship mistakes to avoid
Seek professional help
If you feel that the conflict in your relationship gets hectic or too heavy for you to handle on your own, you can suggest seeking help from a neutral person. “The Family Life Centre offers counselling sessions for couples. Going that route might help you,” Muruge concludes.
Family Life Centre: 011 788 4784
Families South Africa’s national office: 011 975 7106