Conflict in Relationships
Do you ever get that “punch in the gut” feeling when your partner says or does something that just hits you in exactly the wrong way? Your feelings got hurt, and you’re just not sure how to immediately respond. You’re not even sure if you can respond. You’re kind of frozen in your feelings of hurt, disbelief, anger, frustration… all of the emotions are there.
What you do next is the critical decision, and you have a few options.
- Immediately address the conflict
- Gather your thoughts over the next few minutes, hours, or even days
- Hold in your feelings and emotions and leave them unaddressed
Every person and every disagreement may require adaptation to your approach in handling conflict. Having a set approach in place will give you confidence and direction in addressing conflict in your relationship. Holding it all in though – that’s where problems can brew. Here are five reasons why holding in your feelings can be hazardous to your relationship.
Why Working Past Conflicts is Crucial
Holding in feelings can create the perfect hazard for continued resentment
When you’re leaving hurt feelings or issues internal, there’s a good chance that you’re not seeing your partner through those “rose-colored lenses” that you usually enjoy looking through. When you’re holding in feelings, you’re in a more vulnerable state to continue finding reasons to feel hurt, upset, angry, etc. Sometimes, it can even feel like you’re looking for more problems instead of finding solutions.
Holding in feelings does not allow your partner a chance for restitution
When holding in your feelings, you’re robbing your partner of a chance to make things right. Many times in relationships, we’re unaware that we’ve caused hurt and pain to our partner. Often, it’s not until our partner comes forward with their grievance that we can clearly recognize where we may have mis-stepped or gone wrong. We all know it’s extremely difficult to fix something that we don’t even know is broken. Giving your partner a chance to acknowledge their stumble is a gift to both of you.
Holding in feelings does not allow conversation between the two of you
Having a conversation is crucial as it may lead to you understanding where you went wrong. As much as none of us enjoy admitting we’re wrong, it’s absolutely a necessary quality to develop in a relationship. When we hold in our feelings, we’re preventing the growth of our own relationships.
Oftentimes, we’re looking at the “D” part of something that happened while forgetting that “A, B, and C” happened first. When we can have honest conversations with our partners about our perceptions of unfolded events, we can also see where we influenced or misinterpreted the negative outcome. Taking responsibility for our part in hurt feelings can help us resolve our concerns with our partner.
Holding in feelings creates a disconnect in your relationship
When things aren’t copasetic between your partner and you, there’s a chasm that begins to form between you both. Holding your feelings in over and over or choosing to have constructive communication is the deciding element to figure how large that chasm between the two of you will grow to become. The longer feelings of resentment bubble beneath the surface, the greater the distance grows between your partner and you.
When you refrain from all of the more difficult conversations that need to happen, eventually you’ll find yourself on two different sides of a gorge. You’re living life independent of each other. You’re doing things on your own. You become complacent in sharing a space but not sharing a life. The crazy part is, it may not have even ever been “big” problems. Lots of little feelings bottled up over time can create a complete disconnect. All of the unaddressed feelings add up.
Holding in feelings cultivates an atmosphere of distrust
When you hold your feelings in and refrain from confronting them with your partner, there’s a sense of distrust that begins to form. You wonder why your partner doesn’t notice your agitation. Do they not know you well enough to see you’re hurting? You thought they did, but now you’re questioning it. Can they not see you’re struggling? Do they not care?
All of these insecurities can compound and lead to feelings of being unwanted or being unseen. When we’re feeling these emotions, it’s extremely easy to fall into patterns of grandiose thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, we can feel distrust towards our partner for “not having our back” so-to-say.
One more strong reason to not bottle up your emotions is that it can have a toll on your physical and mental health, potentially even leading to heart disease and cancer.
When we look at these reasons to avoid holding in our feelings, we may see where we’re falling short in our relationships. Having a conversation about how to communicate when our feelings are hurt is the first place to start. The best time to have this conversation is before the need arises!
By talking about how you would like to communicate about hurt feelings or frustrations before you actually need to, you’re automatically creating a safe and assuring plan to turn to when necessary. The assurance and confidence that accompanies a plan can help you have the courage you need to bring up the hard conversations. Don’t hold it in. Think through your feelings, wrap your head around what you can, and trust that your partner is genuinely invested in growing your relationship with you. That’s why you’re in the relationship in the first place!
During periods of extreme stress and natural disasters, it is especially important to not hold in your feelings. You can read about Kelly’s experience with a major unexpected power outage and how to deal with a natural disaster or sudden, extreme stress here.
How do your partner and you approach difficult conversations? What have you learned about this process? Share your thoughts with our community in the comments! If you enjoyed this article, please share on social media using the buttons below and sign-up for our newsletter to receive advice straight in your inbox.