June 25, 2020/Sex & Relationships

Pandemic Fights: Overcoming Conflict With Your Significant Other

COVID-19 has increased stress & fighting for many couples

couple working together

Has being cooped up due to COVID-19 caused conflict in your relationship? If so, you’re not alone. Many couples are feeling an emotional strain on their relationship due to the stress of the coronavirus pandemic.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Bickering, miscommunication, minor annoyances and the burden of being together 24/7 can lead to blowouts, lingering negativity and relationship stress.

Psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD, shares the best ways to resolve an argument.

Manage the fighting

For many couples, COVID-19 measures have resulted in spending a lot more time together. Being in the same house day in and day out can sometimes lead to arguments.

Dr. Bea encourages couples to take some time to cool off before coming back with a recovery plan after a disagreement. Try to go into another room or step outside on the patio for a quick break and fresh air.

“If we could notice that when we’re in the heat of an emotion, in a conflict, that’s maybe not the best time to absolutely resolve it, because we may say things that we regret or are hurtful,” he says. “If we could develop a plan on how we recover quickly after that, endorse similar values and interest in protecting one another by finding shared solutions – that would be ideal.”

What we do after an argument can have a lasting impact on the health of our relationships. In fact, there’s research that shows when people take action by apologizing or seeking outside help, their relationship fared better in the long run.

Dr. Bea warns that other behaviors, such as avoidance, can have the opposite effect.

“Things like criticism, defensiveness, contempt, stone-walling or a refusal to engage in problem-solving – if you notice those are growing in your relationship, you’ll want to take some steps if you value that relationship, and if you value being happy instead of being right,” he says. “Sometimes we have to humble ourselves and say there’s some things I can learn and some things I can modify.”

Conflict resolution takes practice and it’s not easy, but if we can dedicate ourselves to working on our skills or enlisting the help of a counselor, it can help.

You have to be willing to solve the argument

Dr. Bea says once couples start getting hostile or detached, it creates real problems and people have a hard time finding their way back.


“We’re reflexively human and we have to find ways to acknowledge that we might run off the rails a little bit, but we’re really interested in recovering,” says Dr. Bea. “We could practice ways of doing that or get some professional help if it’s really starting to become an interference in how you maintain intimacy in a relationship.”

It can be hard to know exactly what to do after a dispute, simply because problem-solving isn’t something that we typically rehearse.

Dr. Bea says those who are active in resolving conflict seem to recover quicker emotionally than those who use a passive approaches instead.

So sure, take some time to cool off after an argument, but don’t let your feelings fester and bubble over for the next several days. Work towards resolution with your partner, together. Your relationship will be better because of it.


Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person observing a loving couple
May 15, 2024/Mental Health
Resentment: How It Can Creep In and Take Hold

The key to letting go of resentment is unpacking complex emotions and learning how to express them

Teen lying on bed holding cell phone up reading it
May 9, 2024/Parenting
Sexting: The Risks and How To Talk to Your Children About It

Sexting has become all too common among kids, putting them at risk for bullying, blackmailing and human trafficking

Two caregivers, with one holding a child on shoulders, walking happily outside
May 1, 2024/Parenting
Our Safe and Responsible Guide To Co-Parenting

Keeping open lines of communication and working together as a team for your children are key to co-parenting

yin-yang-type hands in black and red
April 30, 2024/Sex & Relationships
What Are Karmic Relationships?

Don’t let the romantic terminology fool you: Karmic relationships are dysfunctional by definition

blood clot inside an artery
April 26, 2024/Infectious Disease
The Connection Between COVID-19 and Blood Clots

An increased risk of blood clots can last for nearly a year after a COVID-19 diagnosis

Person getting an audiogram, with technician
April 1, 2024/Ear, Nose & Throat
The Link Between COVID-19 and Tinnitus (That Ringing in Your Ears)

COVID-19 may be associated with tinnitus, but research is still ongoing

aerial view over crowd of commuters
March 18, 2024/Infectious Disease
How Does COVID Immunity Work?

The short answer: It’s complicated, but the basic care precautions still prevail, like washing your hands and isolating if you’re sick

Person experiencing COVID headache, with calendar months floating in background
March 11, 2024/Brain & Nervous System
What To Know About COVID Headaches

They can feel like a typical headache or a migraine headache, but the pain can last for weeks to months

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey