Stronger Marriage

10 Rules for Constructive Conflict

Compiled by Victor W. Harris, MS

Take the quiz below and answer yes or no to see whether or not you are conflicting constructively. Click on the question to learn more about the rules of constructive conflict. It might be helpful to compare your quiz score with that of your partner.??


  1. Do I attack, accuse, or blame others and put them on the defensive through the use of destructive conflict tactics like slamming doors, nagging, criticizing, mocking, mimicking, name-calling, sneering, rolling the eyes, or the silent treatment?
  2. Do I employ constructive conflict tactics like calming down, seeking to speak non-defensively, using a soft voice, calling "Time-Out" when I feel like I might use a destructive conflict tactic, seeking to achieve a compromise, or simply resolving the conflict by "agreeing to disagree?"
  3. Do I soften the conflict by constructively focussing on feelings first (i.e., "This is how I feel when...") and then moving on to the specific issue or complaint?
  4. Do I focus on one specific issue at a time and seek to resolve it before moving on to another issue so the conflict doesn't degenerate into a mudslinging contest?
  5. Do I focus on the present issue or do I bring up issues from the past as weapons to use in an attempt to gain power and control over the situation or another person?
  6. Do I think win/win and understand that if one person loses the argument, then both people in the relationship lose?
  7. Can I soothe myself when I am feeling angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed and resist using destructive conflict tactics so that I can avoid saying things that are hurtful?
  8. Can I soothe my partner through speaking non-defensively, validating his or her perceptions and feelings, or by using humor?
  9. Do I "say what I mean" and "mean what I say" during a conflict while being respectful of the other person's feelings and perceptions?
  10. Do I seek to resolve the specific issue as soon as possible in order to avoid experiencing ongoing resentment, frustration, or hurt feelings?

Quick Poll

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