Conflict arises when defenses are up and we do not feel like our partner "gets us." Instead of going round and round about each others reaction or lack of reaction, try this communication technique that will help to "squash" the conflict before it has a chance to get out of hand.
When your first instinct is to defend against what your partner has shared or to provide a response, instead, pause....
Mirror what your partner has said.
Empathize with what your partner has said.
An example of this might be when one partner shares with the other, "You never care about how I feel. Instead of giving me a hug when I need it, you would rather argue with me and watch me cry. You ignore me and it makes me angry."
The response....(instead of a natural instinct to defend oneself and ones actions or even to tell your side of the story)
Mirror: "You don't feel like I care about how you feel because I argue with you instead of hugging you."
Empathize: "You feel hurt and angry."
Validate: "If you feel that because of my actions, I do not care about you, then I can understand why you feel hurt and angry.
Your response did not have to agree with your partner but rather to show them that you care about how they feel and after all, how they feel is the reality from which they respond. By first showing your partner that you really do hear them and care for their emotional pain, you are helping to also break down their defenses in support of having a productive conversation rather than emotionally painful or frustrating conflict.