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Stage 3 Conflict Stage
7 Stages of a Healthy Relationship

The Conflict Stage is really a sub-stage as this stage will come and go throughout the relationship. It is inevitable in any relationship. Learning to resolve and work through conflicts is how we grow and mature. It is a vital process in our development as a spouse, parent and as a person. Having discovered the reality of what Love is you should be prepared to be able to work your way out of this stage to a better place.

Conflicts can be heated in the early stages of a relationship, but towards the later stages any conflict is resolved calmly. This change comes through maturity and increased intimacy and respect in the older relationship.

Getting stuck in a conflict stage is a clear warning sign that there is something seriously wrong which needs to be dealt with urgently. This stage is where many divorces happen. The underlying fault needs to be found and worked through. Divorce is not the solution, as the unresolved issue will be carried on into the next relationship.

There is one exception to the No Divorce rule and that exception is abuse. No abuse, not only physical abuse, but verbal and emotional abuse as well is acceptable. Check the warning signs of an abuser to see if you need to get out of the relationship. Family and friends are often a good to discuss this with.

If we are aware that conflicts at this stage of a relationship is normal it's much easier to work through. In group dynamics there is generally a honeymoon phase followed by a conflict stage, which then settles to a third stage when everyone has found there place in the system and get on with their job/life.

This is the first conflict stage in the relationship. The partners feel cramped as they try to get on with their lives. They try to assert some independence. Some call this a control stage, but with the problem of abusive partners this is an unfortunate term. However the control here is an attempt to assert control in their own lives, not to control the other. Trying to dominate or suppress a partner’s personality and individuality is abuse. Love cultivates each other’s uniqueness through respect, trust and encouragement.

Abuse dominates and suppresses. Love respects and encourages.

If there an attempt to control the other spouse/partner then a serious reflection needs to take place here. Please read Warning signs of an Abuser and if there is any feeling of anxiety or worry that you are getting yourself into an abuse situation, get help. There are phone numbers on the Domestic Abuse page.

I am aware that this may sound repetitious, but this is often the point in a relationship where an abuser who has been a perfect charming gentleman shows his true self.

The Conflict Stage is where the real work on the relationship starts. Conflicts are usually over where the lines go for each as an individual and together as a couple. This stage is vital in order to get on with a harmonious life. Some couples get stuck at this stage. In the first two there was little risk of this, but here there can be a problem.

This is the stage where personal growth takes place. We are forced in situations where we exercise our compassion, empathy and take responsibility for our actions. You each need to feel emotionally safe with each other. This is a maturing process in which your bonding experience grows roots and most important – trust.. In the previous immature relationship phases your bonding was superficial. A lot of it, but spread thin. Now you are getting solidity as you work through each conflict, resolve it and comfort each other.

If a couple get stuck in this stage there is a risk that those little annoying traits that were so cute in Stage 1 and started becoming irritating in Stage 2, now become annoying. This is not because the partner’s trait is annoying, that is something we need to learn to accept (within reason), it is about the unresolved conflict of setting boundaries in the relationship. Their nerves are raw and small things, even trivial things, become major issues. This spirals down into a cycle of hurt and grudges. Once a couple are stuck in this cycle they must take some action to break this cycle in to reclaim love in the messed up relationship.

So unnecessary.

This stage will be revisited many times during any couples lives. Any major life change will bring a couple back here. It can be positive changes such as good career or job changes, or moving to a new place or country. These positive changes have their negative twins, losing a job or having to change a career because of health reasons and moving because one is forced to, such as a foreclosure.

All these crises will have a serious impact on your relationship. That is why we need to go through these different phases in our relationships so that we are bonded so strongly we can weather the storms of life. Each time we together successfully navigate our way out of a crisis our bond develops, strengthens and most importantly, matures.

Whatever happens the key to strengthening our bond as a couple as we head out of the conflict stage into our second honeymoon is to stay connected and communicate, communicate and communicate.

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