Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together


4 Reasons Not To Avoid Conflict

posted by Linda Mintle

I’m guessing that, “In this world, you will have trouble…” is not your favorite BIble verse to quote!

But it is true, with trouble comes conflict.  Conflict is always present in our relationships and many of us don’t like to deal with it. But here are 4 reasons you should not AVOID conflict:

1) Initially, avoiding conflict might lessen stress. This may be true for the moment, but when conflict is avoided it builds. The build-up of bad feelings can lead to resentment. Then the likelihood of an explosion increases and often results in hurtful ways of handling problems

2) One study noted that while people feel better avoiding at the time of the conflict, they don’t feel better the next day. In the study, physical symptoms and negative well-being were higher the day after the conflict in conflict avoiders than in people who confronted problems.[1] In other words, the impact showed up after the fact.

3) Researchers at the University of Michigan looked at conflict as it relates to longevity of life. They concluded that people who deal with conflict live longer. Specifically, they observed that when both partners in a couple relationship felt unfairly attacked and suppressed their anger at the other, they died earlier than couples who communicated their anger.

4) Another reason not to avoid conflict is that avoiding can lead to sudden eruptions due to a backlog of feelings that have been banked. I see this most often working with people with eating disorders. Other times, conflict simmers below the surface and leads to irritability.


[1] Birditt, K.S. (Oct 2010). Marital conflict behaviors and implications for divorce over 16 years. Journal of Marriage and Family. 72 (5), pp. 1188-1204



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