The most important part of that conflict is how couples resolve the conflict.
So many partners have failures in their repair attempts due to various patterns of behavior that they have unconsciously fallen prey to and do not recognize or understand how to change that cycle.
Once negativity becomes part of conflict, it tends to show up again and again in conflict.
Partners do not turn towards each other with compassion when met with negativity. Often the start up with negativity is mixed with blaming and a unfriendly tone. Blaming sets up defensiveness.
Partners become so defensive they often will respond with past examples that are contrary to the blaming party. They defend. Anyone would do so with that approach.
The fixed negative cycle of blame/defend exists and once again is imprinted in the repair attempt. Ultimately the negative cycle of blame/defend ends in both parties polarizing and leaving the 'stuck' place of the behavior.
Nothing gets solved. Negativity and resentment feed the next encounter.
Blaming is not taking responsibility. Using "I" statements and asking for one's needs to be met is far more successful communication. "I would really like if you would take the garbage out on the way to the garage. Could you do that honey?" Make sure you make a request to your partner rather than a complaint, again use "I" statements. Tone is important as well as treating the other as a friend and seeing the best in your partner as you would want your partner to view you as well.
Defending is a stuck place too where the partner who is blamed does not want to accept the blame or take responsibility. Walls go up. This behavior can be thwarted with "I" statements and compassion for the other.
"I am sorry I forgot to grab the garbage on my way out. I apologize, I did not do this intentionally, I will try harder next time."
Some partners stonewall. Stonewalling is avoiding conflict and an unsuccessful attempt to calm things down.
Stonewalling is when one partner does not answer the other partner who then becomes angry or accusing. Stonewalling in essence is shutting out the other person and an unconscious means of control. This is emotional withdrawing and control attempts associated with defensiveness, contempt, or domineering. None of these behaviors are communicating. If one partner needs some space and is becoming too angry to converse, that is a different situation. Then asking for space and returning to the conversation when there is calm is very appropriate, however this is not stonewalling.
Criticism by women is predicated by an unresponsive or irritable male during the preceding events of the day's conversation. To avoid this issue of stonewalling, simply make a commitment to validate a partner that is talking. This attempt to talk is one partner's cue to be 'seen and heard' by the other partner. Validation occurs when a pause is taken to answer the other, not in a dismissive way, in giving attention to the speaker. Not that one has to stop what they are doing at the demand of the other. Once validated and the speaking partner continues, it is important to take care of oneself with friendly statements such as, "Can we talk soon honey, I just came in the door and I want to change first.
I can be back in 20 minutes."
To correct old patterns of behavior and repair attempts several conditions are helpful.
To have a softer start up, using positive outlooks is important.
Validating your partner's statement is also another means of "I see you and I hear you. You are important to me."
Using "I" statements and make requests rather than blaming is heard by partners rather than defended.
Emotional engagement is created by sharing fondness and admiration toward your partner and finding ways to say thank you, use a gentle touch as you talk or walk by. Notice and turn towards those bids for emotional connection and express emotional needs. Life is full of these subtle moments when partners bid for connection to the other and how all the small choices they make hugely affect the course of a couple's life.
Portions Taken from John Gottman Theory