Intimacy after conflict

There is always conflict in relationships. Life is complex and can feel impossibly hard at times. As a result, it is natural to reflect our grievances onto those we are closest to. In systemic therapy, we look at the whole system people live in, not just the relationship with their partner. Understanding people’s family origins and their experiences can help us to understand how they deal with conflict.

We often have patterns of learnt behaviours from previous relationships and what we have witnessed from our caregiver's relationships while we were children. Understanding these patterns and considering how they contribute to conflict within our relationships helps us to create better relationships with less conflict.

It is healthy for children to see conflict in their caregiver's relationships. But it is important for them to witness a resolution and a mutual development of living habits to accommodate less conflict in the future. Teaching children that communicating feelings is important for strengthening relationships allows them to navigate conflict in their own life.

Consider how you behave after conflict. I often ask clients what they do after a disagreement. Reflecting on post-conflict behaviour can reveal if it contributes to ongoing disagreements. Many couples will be silent with each other after conflict, which will create a feeling of isolation. Some have incredible sex but haven’t communicated what they need to make things better next time conflict arises.

Take some time to communicate how conflict could look in the future. Intimacy can play a part in that too. I often hold my partner's hand when we have a disagreement so he understands I am coming from a place of love. If it becomes heated, I ask if we can pause and take some time out. These are tools that you can use in your own life.