The Three Tiers: A Broad Overview of Couple Conflict and Continuum

Like most couples, my husband and I argue. We are both fairly strong personalities and when challenged become Fort Knox where no one and nothing is getting through. 



It keeps things interesting but there are also challenges that may come up depending on the subject or how hard we each want to stand our ground.  




I look at the way couples argue, and I use the word argue not fight because fighting implies violence. Although sometimes I see red I don’t consider it fighting but more of an aggressive disagreement. I would say passionate instead of aggressive but lets be honest. I’m no walk in the park when sparked. 




​ When discussing the way couples argue and approach conflict, I like to put the level of conflict in one of three tiers, ​First tier is the standard and classic “didn’t put the seat down so I fell in and now I’m mad.” This is one of those simple but frustrating scenarios where there is obviously a right and wrong but can happen accidentally if dude/gal isn’t paying attention. I don’t necessarily get mad about that kind of thing but it can get annoying. If you don’t nip it in the bud early on in the relationship, good luck. This type of situation does not require intense action or reaction. I recommend approaching the topic simply but nicely with an emphasis on how much falling in the toilet at 3am sucks. Hopefully, they will understand.




The second tier of conflict is a bit more intense. It would be a scenario equivalent to when one of you cooks a lovely dinner and it was discussed that you would both be home at a specific time, yet one shows up an hour and a half after and all the food is cold. The medium rare you meticulously prepared is now medium room temp. As most situations go, there are alway factors and details involved in why what happened, happened, but I’m just going to discuss negligence in being on time. Time is a very important factor in a relationship. It shows respect for the other person it shows value to the time planned on spending together and it shows (when achieved) trust that you can rely on your partner. I recommend approaching these type of scenarios with a grain of salt. A lot of the time, it can become a he said-she said and/or misunderstanding or lack of proper communication. In the end, it is a matter of whether or not both parties can move on smoothly and not let the night be ruined.  It also helps whether or not the negligent party was apologetic or just didn’t care. 




​​The third tier is a little more tough and can be make or break a relationship. Third tier is when you make a discovery about your partner that shocks you. For example: When your partner straight up lies to you. It doesn’t even have to be about anything crazy. A lie is a lie. Like when you watch a television show and one of the characters lies to their friend, parent or partner and you think to yourself “OMG just tell Cassie, Jake is in love with her!” and you can’t for the life of you understand why Laura didn’t just tell Cassie the truth? It wouldn’t have hurt Laura and Cassie could’ve just moved on. Well, it happens in real life. We feel stuck sometimes and panic when the best option is to just be open. Say how you feel, what you think, what is going on, not only to avoid conflict but to discuss and work together on whatever it may be. At the end of the day, it takes a few important things to work past the tiers.



One, always be able to put yourself in the other persons shoes. You just may see where they are coming from.

Two, a great apology goes a long way. Get crafty with it. 

Three, know where the clock runs out on willing to work past this.

Four, never stop caring.

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