Role Conflict in a Relationship and its Management

role conflict in a relationship and its management

All of us in a relationship have certain defined roles, certain greyish roles which are sometimes to be taken up and sometimes can be passed on to the other person. Now this creates a space of expectations from the partner but it also might lead to a lack of communication because we may take this as a given. We often define roles to each individual in a relationship but when these expectations are not met, it causes a lot of conflict.

One of the conflicts which is prominent among couples is – role conflict, a clash between two roles an individual might be playing just like an actor in a theatre. When one role has a conflicting expectation from the other, it leads to a lot of chaos and confusion within not just the individual but also in the relationship. Often the requirement or expectation in one role is against the very duties of the second role as they might be incompatible and contradictory role requirements can lead to role conflicts.

Here is an example to understand role conflict better – Alexa might be both, a wife and a boss or a supervisor to her husband Baron. He is involved in some loss to the company where there is to be a call taken by the management on his demotion and the management committee is being led by his wife.

While at work, she is expected to be unbiased and carry out her responsibilities without any prejudice in favour of her husband and if there are discrepancies in what he has done, action is a must but that action might lead to a major tussle at home where she is the wife and he is the husband and do not share a boss-employee relationship. Now this is an example of an inter role conflict which is a conflict that arises between two different roles while intra role conflict arises when the person is expected to play both roles in the same setup.

For example, A knows that she has to be warm towards her kids but when they do not behave well, or show indiscipline, she also needs to be a little directive and clear around it so that the kids understand the importance of discipline. There is an intra role conflict happening here.

How can we manage these conflicts and struggles?

Our words and gestures often communicate a lot more than what we speak. Taking a step back and detaching from the statement and not looking at it as a personal attack so that the buttons aren’t being pushed, the trigger points aren’t disturbed helps us respond rationally. Another interesting method to work around these struggles and conflicts in a relationship is by using the ‘CARE’ Principle-

Concentrate on the relevant issue

Acknowledge your own active listening through facial expression and body posture

Respond by asking questions and paraphrasing back what the other person has said

Empathize by trying to see things from the other person’s perspective

These techniques help us steer and navigate smoothly through these phases of power struggles or role conflicts.

Also Read – How Do You Resolve Conflicts?

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