It is my own personal experience, and that of clients, that whoever you choose to have a relationship with, there will be conflict and a lot of it. The paradox to our usual thinking is that the more intense and close a relationship is, the more likely it is that troubled times will come. As humans, we are built that way. Anyone who tells you that there is no conflict in their relationship is either lying or is not totally engaged. The key is how you handle it and whether you allow it to escalate. Because let’s face it, much of the conflict we have with our partners is about pointless things but we allow it to grow to include other pointless things and we often trigger from other experiences we have had. A good portion of it could be solved fairly easily if we just make it so. If we stop the stonewalling and having to prove that we are right. This puts both partners in the proverbial red and blue corner slugging it out until the end. Add pride to the mixture and you have a lethal cocktail.
Everyone has a conflict style and understanding that is the first step to making that style more functional. When I look at my own, I realise that I tend very quickly to escalate things. I always know this afterwards but often then it is too late. The window of opportunity has gone. Why does this happen? I recognised that a long time ago. When I get the hint of insecurity, long-held fear of abandonment (due to my childhood) takes over as I frantically try to get my point across. In effect, I am my child like self in the conflict instead of a mature adult who might handle it better. However, as with everyone else who manages conflict in a dysfunctional way, this is no real excuse and I, as with all adults who are mostly self-aware and self-conscious of our actions, hold a true responsibility to ensure that our own internal struggles do not project onto our partner or anyone else. Just doing this will help greatly because if this is happens, it will stop the cycle of guilt and shame that will inevitably start the next round. How this is achieved takes discipline and strong will.
How many of us can truly give up our position and look at things fairly and without pride and being triggered? How many of us can listen effectively to the true meaning of what our partner is saying? How many of us can see that some of what they are saying might be true? How many of us can forego tactics in order to gain the upper hand? I truly believe that not many of us can do this but this is essential and yes, conflict can really be a method of improving the way things are in the relationship going forward (as long as violence is not involved). This takes the form of looking at ourselves instead of looking at our partner. Essential is that we keep act in a respectful, calm manner in conflict and keep the well-being of the relationship in mind. Staying present and listening effectively avoids triggering and setting healthy boundaries instead of stonewalling and anger will certainly move the process forward.
If we can truly see conflict as a means of improving the basis of our relationships and manage it that way, then that is the way it will be. It is a choice and doing nothing and allowing escalation is also a choice, albeit that we might not see it that way at the time. The bottom line is…manage conflict effectively and your relationship will be in a place that you could not have imagined.
Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies with a speciality in CBT techniques. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr. Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who find taking therapy online as convenient and tailored for their needs. More Details HERE