Is Conflict Just Inevitable?
“Ugh…! We Can’t Stop Fighting”
Is that you? “We just can’t stop fighting, it is continual.” There are couples that seem to have argument after argument to the point that it feels like the perpetual state of the relationship. Then there are others that though it may not be perpetual, still feel as though conflict comes way too often. What if I were to tell you that the conflict in marriage is not necessarily a bad thing? Can conflict be other than bad? Can it be a good thing?
Now before you tell me that I have lost my mind I am going to ask you to hang in here with me for a moment. You are going to have to ask yourself some questions as you consider this idea with me. Why are you arguing? Why does the conflict exist? Most often it is because there are (at least) two differing perspectives at play/being considered (and of course we will always believe that we are right). The Bible puts it to us like this, “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves.” (James 4:1-The Message) Could it be different? I believe that it can and here is a way to get there.
We began this post talking about fighting, arguing, and conflict. What if we reframe that to be a less egregious word –disagreeing? You see, we will likely always have disagreements BUT we don’t have to always have fights or arguments. Marriage researcher John Gottman, PhD says that “most relationship problems (69%) never get resolved but are “perpetual problems” based on personality differences between partners.” So what if we were to see these disagreements (conflicts) as a signal that there is something that we don’t understand about our partner? If I allow disagreement to become that thing in the relationship that signals to me that there is something about you or the situation that I don’t understand I will see the situation differently. My hope is that the new awareness will bring a curiosity and patience for understanding the other perspective; now there is potential for growth and connection in the relationship.
“We do not have to agree, but if we can move to understanding, the relationship will thrive and we will experience much more pleasure.”
If I stay present, and lead with humility, seeking to understand my partner’s perspective, there is a greater likelihood that we will have a much better conversation, AND will emerge much closer than when we entered the conversation. We do not have to agree, but if we can move to understanding, the relationship will thrive and we will experience much more pleasure.
Is this a particular struggle for you in your relationship? If you would like to figure out how to lower the temperature or even to lessen the frequency of your disagreements, give us a call or visit the website to schedule online.
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