Conflict in relationships is often met with suspicion that maybe the relationship is doomed, mismatched, or that something is wrong. The conflict may grow into an argument where one or both parties are set on proving their point of view at nearly any cost.
Unfortunately, both of these perspectives are short sited and pessimistic. Conflict is the most predictable part of relationships. Think about it! How often do we get frustrated with ourselves? Now add another person to the dynamic and you have at least twice as much frustration!
But instead of seeing conflict as a chance to prove yourself right, or as a sign of relationship demise, I encourage you to see this as an opportunity for intimacy. Intimacy, as defined here, is being known and knowing another. Particularly in the case of a committed relationship, conflict provides the window to understanding your partner better than you did before.
This is done by setting aside your need to be right for a moment. Just long enough to hear and understand your partner. If each party wants to be heard and known, then obviously the other party must be willing to hear and know. Your greatest goal in conflict is to listen first. What is bugging your partner so much? How did you play a role in that? Can you validate their perspective or their feelings at all? Don't worry. You'll have a turn too. But if our goal is to understand one another, we grow deeper together. And ultimately, we hurt each other less.
Don't go looking for conflict, but when it comes, welcome it. This is a beautiful opportunity to get to know one another better.
Portland based Counselor sharing latest book reviews and emotional health tips.