Conflict is a natural byproduct of relationships, because people with ideas and opinions often disagree. Unhealthy conflict can cause blood pressure to rise, and turn sane people into raging lunatics. But healthy conflict is very necessary because it helps us address problems that frankly need to be addressed.
With a natural disaster polluting the ocean, political wars ravaging our hearts, and reality TV littering our airwaves, conflict is everywhere. It happens at the office and it happens at home. It happens on ball fields, highways, supermarkets and airplanes. It’s part of the human experience, and it’s essential for our continued evolution.
Conflict has always been the center of growth and exploration because our need to understand motivates us to address it. Scientists work day and night trying to unlock new sources of alternative energy and new cures for old nemeses. Engineers try to solve intricate mathematical puzzles to erect impossible structures above ground and beneath the ocean floor. And kids look out their windows on clear, star filled nights, wondering how it all happened. Conflict is what awakens our human ingenuity, and gets our wheels churning. And it works better than any synthesized drug on the black market.
Conflict also plays a big part in relationships. Two people inevitably will run into some sort of disagreement over the course of their time together. The big three sources of conflict within most relationships are money, kids and sex. Disagreements happen for quantitative reasons – too little or too much- or for qualitative reasons-how we define the experience. But it’s how we resolve these conflicts that ultimately define our partnership.
Sometimes the answers are easy. “If you give me something, I’ll give you something.” That would be called compromise, and that’s born from communication. Sometimes the answers are not so easy, and might take many conversations in the company of a licensed professional. Because we all come to every situation and relationship with our bag of “stuff.” Not necessarily our bag of karma, although that certainly accompanies us too, but our bag of learned responses that we’ve gathered over the years on this planet. And when our “stuff” clashes with someone else’s “stuff,” conflict happens.
Being more aware of the pitfalls that are part of relationships can help us sort out conflict. Understanding that conflict is inevitable is the first step, because it will help us feel more comfortable with it. Because conflict seems to be something most people avoid like a stranger on a quiet city street, in the late hours of the night. But conflict is something that has to be embraced in order for resolution to happen. It’s not fun, but it can’t be ignored, otherwise it just multiplies and gathers momentum, like the germs scientists work so hard to eradicate.
Life should be enjoyed to the fullest, but that doesn’t mean conflict isn’t present each and every day. But just keep in mind that without conflict billions of years ago, somewhere out in the vast universe, we all might not be here today.
Would you rather deal with conflict head on or ignore it?
What kind of conflict is worth addressing?
How often do you deal with conflict in your life?
How do you deal with conflict in your primary relationships? Spouse, partner, kids?