Marriage counseling for improving conflict resolution skills


Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship, and marriage is no exception. However, the way couples handle conflict can significantly impact the health and longevity of their relationship. John Gottman, a renowned relationship researcher, has developed a new model for resolving conflict in a loving relationship. Marriage counseling for improving conflict resolution skills use the following techniques to help couples resolve their conflicts. Here, we will explore Gottman’s fifth principle and discover how it can help improve conflict resolution skills in marriage counseling.

Marriage Counseling for improving conflict resolution skills: Key Points

  1. Soften your startup: A soft startup is essential for initiating a conversation about a problem without resorting to criticism or contempt. Instead of launching an attack, try using a direct complaint that expresses your feelings and needs. For example, rather than saying, “You are careless with money,” you can say, “I want us to save more.” This approach allows you to address the issue without attacking your partner’s character. By starting the conversation softly, you can prevent the cycle of negativity that often leads to emotional distance and loneliness.
  2. Learn to make and receive repair attempts: Repair attempts are efforts to de-escalate a conflict or repair the emotional bond between partners. These attempts can be difficult to hear when negativity pervades the relationship. By formalizing repair attempts with scripted phrases, you can make them more obvious and effective. Some examples include, “I need your support right now,” “Just listen to me right now and try to understand,” or “Please be gentler with me.” Making and receiving repair attempts can help defuse arguments and foster a more constructive dialogue.
  3. Soothe yourself and each other: During conflicts, it’s crucial to take breaks to soothe yourself and your partner. Take breaks at least for twenty minutes to calm down. During this break, avoid dwelling on feelings of indignation or victimhood. Instead, engage in activities that are soothing and distracting, such as listening to music or exercising. Additionally, practicing meditative techniques can help calm the body and mind. Relax your muscles and focus on releasing tension. Once you’ve calmed yourself, spend time soothing your partner, offering support, and creating a safe space for open communication.
  4. Compromise: Compromise is an essential aspect of conflict resolution. It involves being open to considering your partner’s perspective, even if you don’t agree with it entirely. Take the time to listen actively and ask questions to understand their point of view. Together, choose a solvable problem to tackle. Then, independently think about the problem and find a common ground using the concept of two concentric circles. This exercise helps you collaborate, give and accept influence, and work towards a mutually satisfactory solution.
  5. Be tolerant of each other’s faults: No one is perfect, and accepting your partner’s flaws and foibles is crucial for successful conflict resolution. Rather than focusing on “if only” scenarios, where you believe that your problems would vanish if your partner were different, embrace the reality of who they are. Conflict resolution is not about changing one person; it’s about negotiation, finding common ground, and accommodating each other’s needs. Until you can accept your partner’s faults, compromise will be challenging to achieve.


In Marriage counseling for improving conflict resolution skills, applying these principles can help couples enhance and strengthen their relationship. By softening the startup, making and receiving repair attempts, soothing each other, compromising, and being tolerant of each other’s faults, couples can create a foundation of respect, empathy, and effective communication. Conflict will always be present, but with the right tools and techniques, couples can navigate through it, building a stronger and more fulfilling marriage.

Source: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert, Gottman, J. M. (2015).  


Image Source: Image by storyset on Freepik

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top