Family Resources on Conflict Resolution in a Relationship
Project and Purpose
After hearing several youth tell stories about their relationships, students will participate in a thoughtful discussion about how to resolve conflict in a romantic relationship.
How can conflicts be resolved with an intimate partner?
If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students analyzed how romantic and intimate relationships can create conflict and how to resolve conflicts when they arise. In class students discussed various conflicts that often come up in relationships. In groups students discussed rules and norms for having conflict resolution discussions.
Getting Ready for the Conversation
The video for this module features two couples who married when they were teenagers. Even though all four (both couples) state in the video that they are committed, they also discuss how conflict occurs in their marriages. The video also shows several other teenagers who discuss the types of conflicts that occur in romantic relationships.
It is important to always be mindful that conflict happens in all relationships (although we may use other terms like disagreement or misunderstanding). In discussions it is important to share that conflict is to be expected in relationships, but it must be dealt with honestly and respectfully. Students used the following format for discussing conflict from the Love Is Respect website (see link below):
- Set boundaries
- Look for the real issue
- Agree to disagree
- Compromise when possible
- Consider everything
Love Is Respect is an excellent resource for adolescents and young adults regarding intimate relationships, article on setting boundaries:
Love Is Respect article on conflict resolution:
Conflict resolution for couples article by Hope Gillette at Psych Central:
Constructive Conversation Starters
The first item is for follow-up after participating in class activities.
Tell me (or us) about the poster your group made in class. What type of conflict did your group base its poster on? Why did you choose this conflict? How do you see a couple coming to a resolution on the issue you discussed?
Do romantic partners ever disagree? How can you make sure that when a conflict or disagreement occurs, you are able to resolve it in a way that respects the other person? Why is it important to develop a plan for dealing with conflict in a relationship?
Does compromise mean that you must do what the other person wants to do? Why or why not? Describe the difference between compromise and going along with the other person’s wishes. What are some values that you should not compromise? Why do you believe so?
What are some reasonable expectations you should have of another person if you become involved in a romantic or intimate relationship? Why are these important? What should you do if someone does not respect the expectations you have? Give examples.
School to Home Resources on Conflict Resolution in a Relationship
- A resource for further reading and support can be found at www.loveisrespect.org website operated by the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
- It is recommended that this lesson be presented after (but not necessarily directly after) students have completed the “Spotlight on SEL: Using ‘I’ Statements”
- Posters or poster sized pieces of paper
- Markers and writing utensils
Review and restate session norms. These should remind students how to interact and communicate respectfully. The topic involves intimate relationships and should be discussed appropriately. Essential question should be prominently displayed.
Watch the CWK documentary film clip “Dating and Relationships” Part 2.
Ask students the following questions. Give students time to think and possibly write down some answers or thoughts.
- There were two couples in film who got married as teenagers, Ani and Juan and Claudia and Sandro. What were some of the challenges that one or both couples mentioned about being married?
- Claudia discussed her many roles including wife, mother and student. She stated, “those three things are very hard to accomplish”. What do you think this means?
- Are there other potential sources of conflict that you can think of that might occur in an intimate relationship?
After students have reflected, have them share some thoughts. You may wish to read students’ comments aloud to the group to keep the comment anonymous and less emotionally charged. You may also wish to point out that these potential sources of conflict the people in the film mention are not a result of one partner doing something that is wrong, but simply issues that come up in life.
Discuss with students that conflict occurs in every serious relationship, it is simply part of life. The following are suggestions for conflict resolution within an intimate relationship. These come from the loveisrespect.org website.
- Speak respectfully, if one partner can’t right now it might be better to wait.
Look for the real issue
- Find what is important. Some times the issue is different from what started the conflict.
Agree to disagree
- It might not be important enough to have to agree on.
Compromise when possible
- There could be a third option or middle ground.
- Is this an issue of differing opinions or something bigger like values or morals?
The facilitator may wish to show the webpage with this list to the group, it is found at https://www.loveisrespect.org/healthy-relationships/conflict-resolution/
In addition to the list above, it will be useful to remind students about the “Spotlight on SEL” lesson involving the use of “I” statements, where students practiced conflict resolution skills as well.
Using your knowledge of students in the group, place students in groups of 2, 3 or 4. Give each group a poster and markers.
In their groups ask students to brainstorm several situations that could create conflict between intimate partners. Students can use situations from the film clip or make up their own. Remind students not to choose situations involving abusive relationships because
conflict resolution is an important skill to learn for all relationships. After students have several potential conflict ideas, have students write constructive comments that each person could say within a respectful conversation and write them on their poster.
After groups have completed their posters, have each group share their posters and demonstrate the sentences the partners could say including using appropriate voice tone and volume. Provide feedback and encourage positive feedback from all group members.
- Why is it important to know how to resolve conflict in an intimate relationship?
- Is it sometimes hard to be respectful when conflicts arise?