Conflict is a good thing. It is the road to harmony and balance, paved with honesty and vulnerability. Conflict only becomes negative when we lose a grip on it. Unfortunately, this happens more times than not in today’s relationships, families, and culture.
But it doesn’t have to be the case. The reason we have conflict is because we believe, feel, and see differently from one another. Not one of us is entirely right about all things and healthy conflict is the way we expose our ignorance or our fault and step into deeper communal understanding and appreciation.
1) Know what your fighting about
The first casualty in improper conflict is always truth. As defensive mechanisms, sabotage, and tempers step up like battle regiments, truth gets further and further away.
I know a couple that had a massive fight early in their marriage about toilet paper. Toilet paper! They went fifteen rounds on which direction the wiping cloth should be put on the spool. And, guess what, the fight wasn’t really about toilet paper. Duh. It was about being heard and valued.
Before your head explodes about toothpaste or holiday plans or dishes in the sink, take a moment to try to discern what is really on the line here. Why are you really upset?
Our values are a very private, very powerful thing. As such, we protect them at all costs. When we are lucky enough to find someone we love, those defensive walls, protective bubbles, and fiery darts suddenly work against us.
If you can name the deep part of you that is feeling threatened enough for your emotions to call all hands on deck, you have set yourself up for a more real and united victory.
Conflict is about fine-tuning our understanding of truth. The more we can surround conflict with truth rather than cloud it with double-meanings, hidden riddles, false aims, etc., the better.