If you have been following along with the conversation topics I have offered for you and your partner, I hope that you have begun to uncover some of the ways your upbringing has affected your relationship, be it positively and negatively. Let’s turn now to the topic of conflict.


Your family and upbringing teach you about dealing with conflict. Many of you come from homes where keeping the peace was important. You learned not to need anything and not to rock the boat. Others may have come from chaotic environments where conflict was a constant presence—perhaps even a threatening reality. Many of you were raised with something in between: conflict existed, but you didn’t necessarily learn to deal with it well (in a way that would be satisfying to all parties and lead to mutual understanding). To have a strong relationship with your partner, it’s important to learn about your comfort level with conflict as well as your skill set for handling conflict with others. Consider the following prompts as you evaluate what you learned about conflict:

  • How did your family handle conflict? What behaviors did your parents exhibit during disagreements?
  • Did conflict get resolved in your family? Or did it fester and come out as passive aggressiveness?
  • Was conflict scary in any way? What happened that made it so?
  • Were you allowed to disagree with adults as a child? How did you get that message?
  • What about conflict between you and your siblings? How did that go? What did your parents do about it?
  • What was your basic takeaway about conflict? What are your tendencies now when it comes to addressing or avoiding conflict

In next week’s blog, I will ask you about a significant source of family conflict: substance abuse and mental illness.

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