Conflict in a relationship is often the pivotal point that leads to unhappiness and dissatisfaction of the relationship. Let’s have a look at conflict from a different point of view to turn it into an opportunity to grow and learn instead of an ‘I win – you loose’ scenario.
The ultimate purpose of every relationship, whether it is an intimate one or not, is to enable both of you to grow personally and interpersonally. Whenever we enter into a relationship there is this meeting place of two human beings finding out something new about themselves and each other. It really is the evolution of your own consciousness as well as the consciousness of interaction at large.
Conflict is often seen as the opposite of intimacy. The reality of “me-against-you conflict” is that it reduces the feeling of safety, ability and willingness to be vulnerable. Avoiding conflict therefore is what seems like the most logical solution.
Conflict can also be seen as the opportunity to know more about yourself and the other person; to know about your likes and dislikes, what you are made of, your boundaries, your needs and wants and the same things in the other person.
When we start to see conflict in a different way, we can stay connected while having a different opinion to your partner. Rather than imagining a fight, conflict or argument as a “me-against-you” scenario, we can visualize it being a fight against a common misunderstanding.
Every conflict is really engaging in a misunderstanding, which the two people in it don’t yet realize or understand. It is not about the money spent or the mother-in-law. It basically boils down to not having your needs and wants met around “being loved”:
- Not loved (enough)
- Not respected (enough)
- Not seen (enough)
- Not feeling important (enough)
Conflict as part of a real loving relationship is only a temporary misunderstanding, which, if analyzed, will allow you to understand yourself and your partner better.
Emotionality in conflict
Your anger (or other emotional expression) during the conflict is always a cover for hurt. Behind that hurt there is an important and sacred need or value that has been trespassed. If, instead of attacking or defending, you start investigating and inquiring into what is really behind, you will learn from conflict, rather than being tired out by it.
Start being curious
This might mean putting your own hurt aside and asking your partner: “I can see you’re really angry and hurt, there must be something really important here for you that I do not yet fully understand, what was that?” This curiosity, spoken with true empathy rather than sarcasm, will bring you back into an intimate and vulnerable space from which you can then learn to turn this conflict around.
You need to be in love, to alchemize conflict, because in conflict your darkest parts come out.
What do to when in conflict?
- Take a couple of deep breaths and ground yourself
- Take a time-out if needed, with an agreed time and place to return and finish the conversation
- Reach out and touch your partner, touch helps to feel safe and continuously loving even though we have different opinions
- Asking yourself: What is it that I need right now that I’m not getting. Give it yourself = re-parent yourself
- Take responsibility for your part in the conflict
- Show leadership in offering steps to resolve the conflict