Couple Conflict Strategies


Couple Conflict Strategies

Couple Conflict Dr. Linda Miles
Dr. Linda Miles


Couple conflict strategies. . . we all need to develop them. During couple conflict, don’t let the embers of friendship erupt into an uncontrolled blaze and burn out the relationship.

Forest Rangers use controlled burns to rid the forest of underbrush and keep it healthy.

A loving and lasting relationship needs the same care. You need to keep enough passion to keep the sparks flying and enough friendship for safety.

There was a time when the Forest Service attempted to put out every blaze, no matter how small, as soon as possible. In recent years they realized that simply containing some of the fires was better for the forest. They discovered that the fire could not be allowed to burn unrestricted without harming the fragile ecosystem—plants, animals, soil, water, air. They needed to control the fire and to create a balance of ridding the forest of dead wood and thick underbrush thus eliminating fuel for a future fire while protecting the forest’s ecosystem.

Relationships are like forests

Relationships are much like the forests; in need of balance. Friendship on Fire offers a balance between passion and friendship. To have and to hold a healthy, long-term relationship, both the best blend.

There is a need to control the flames in relationships without extinguishing embers. Happy couples repair couple conflict in a timely way. Using friendship skills like compassion and respect to set controlled burns, bad feelings do not smolder for years. Holding on to anger is like holding a hot charcoal briquette in your hand with the intention of throwing it at your partner. You’ll get burned!

By illuminating and dealing with your differences couples can let go of the past. A controlled burn brings forgiveness as anger and grief are released by controlled burns.

If the flames spread too quickly friendship holds the tools for control and repair. By burning off hurts in a timely and constructive way, those with loving relationships embrace the present through laughter and love.

Personal story

Over decades Dr. Miles and her psychiatrist husband learned to do efficient and effective controlled burns. They laughed about the fact they had to learn to work things out because the world felt too darn cold when they were at odds. Even though Dr. Robert now has dementia, he recently asked her to marry him again. Although he did not recognize her as his wife he told her he found her attractive and smart and would like to marry her. Dr. Linda then planned a renewal of vows with family and her Pastor son, Brett, performed ceremony.

John Claypool wrote after the death of his young daughter:
…For years I took life for granted and assumed having a healthy family was deserved yet now see what an astonishingly good fortune even a single day really is.

Friendship on fire

Friendship on Fire is about daily appreciation for the home fires that forge you into better people and the quiet expression of a lifetime of friendship.When your brain believes there is trouble it sends out messengers—a fire alarm—to break out the adrenalin, the first line of emotional defense. The cavemen had it as a means of survival, and bodies still use the same chemical pathways for protection. It doesn’t matter if the trouble is real or imagined. Your wild imagination can start a brushfire.

If you believe a situation is dangerous, your body prepares to flee, fight, or freeze. Your body reacts the same way to a battle—real or imagined—with your partner. Over time frequent stress wears on your mind and body, making you more prone to disease.


Develop a fire alarm to let the other person know when a time-out is needed to calm down during a couple conflict. Learn to signal with one another to take a time-out, repair, and reconnect.

Don’t let the embers of friendship erupt into an uncontrolled blaze and burn out the relationship. Use that fire alarm to dampen destructive flames and get back on the track of enjoying one another.

People think love is an emotion. Love is good sense.