How marriage counselling helps resolve couples’ conflict

It seems couples can build a more intimate relationship because of their conflict. How can this be? Can couple-conflict lead to intimacy and closeness? Let’s explore discoveries made from the research on how conflict can become a stepping stone towards a rock-solid relationship. 

Couples often come to relationship counselling or couple coaching because they are experiencing conflict in their relationships. Most times, the counsellor may offer therapy, or coaching, or a mixture of therapy and coaching. Coaching might help couples acquire the essential skills needed to go on together in the relationship, without the conflict. However, it seems that conflict is not all unhelpful.

It is possible that when certain conditions are intentionally created in therapy, by the therapist, partners can build a closer, more intimate relationship because of their conflict and problem areas, rather than in spite of them (Jacobson & Christensen, 1996). The very problem that has brought the couple to relationship counselling becomes the vehicle for closeness as they go on together in the relationship.

However, perhaps there is a caveat on this outcome. ”Coming closer together” applies when problems that bring a couple to counselling are of the incompatibility variety. Such conflicts arise from significant incompatibilities that partners will not be able to slough off as insignificant or treat with indifference. 

Incompatibilities like these arouse deep emotional upset in one, or both, partners (Jacobson & Christensen, 1996). Problems excluded here can be unfaithfulness in the relationship, secretly seeking out others in chat groups or using pornography. 

The problems that can bring couples together are more likely to be incompatibilities – “ill-fitting qualities between partners that practically guarantee conflict at some point in the relationship” (Jacobson & Christensen, 1996).

Couple coaching can help to bring couples closer together as they address their problems in new ways. Couple conflict can increase when couples continue to use their old ways of approaching conflict areas. This tight grip on the conflict can widen the rift in the relationship. Couple coaching can help you and your partner to loosen your grip on the conflict. The problem may draw you both closer.

The therapeutic process can make it possible for you both to come closer together, emotionally. Affirmed clearly by Jacobson & Christensen (1996), “when the problem or conflict successfully brings partners closer together, good things happen.”

It is possible, perhaps even desirable and intentional, to improve a relationship through the conflict itself. I’ve seen this happen even when just one of the partners is willing to engage in the process. Conflict, it seems, can catalyze closeness. 

A long-term win for both parties

Couples who attend marriage counselling appear to see it as a long-term win for both parties. It can forge and shape a new relationship with the same person. 

It seems that in a relationship, the problem can be instrumental in bringing about couples’ closeness. Do you want to know how that feels? Perhaps you could try therapy or couple coaching and see.

About The Author

Henk Ensing coaches couples in skills for joyful, lasting, relationships.

Skilled in role-plays, he coaches couples who want to restore their connection and make their love last. 

Henk applies daily use of the key relationship skills, with Jenny, the girl he married over 33 years ago. Henk offers Relationship Coaching via Zoom across New Zealand. He helps couples in conflict by empowering them with skills right from the first session.

Contact Details

Book a session with Heenk for Couple Coaching 

027 2284 570