We all have, and will have, moments where such disagreement or frustration is experienced that a conflict seems inevitable. The feelings are at times overwhelming, or the way to a solution just doesn’t seem to be apparent, leaving you frustrated. Perhaps it’s a feeling of not being understood or listened to, or there is a challenge in making oneself clear because you can’t find the words. Sometimes, in these moments, words slip out, first with anger or hurt, then with regret which we may bite back so as not to appear weak.
Fighting versus Discussing
I have seen those that fear a fight with their partner, avoiding them completely often to a sense of building resentment and dissatisfaction from not being heard. Sometimes these same people will then invoke it with careless and disrespect, earth shattering tantrums, and attempt to reverse feelings of guilt or blame with “you won’t communicate”. Similarly, there are those who would rather start a fight because they believe some major conflict or retribution is about to occur, based only on their fear, and therefore attempt to take control so the fallout is on “their terms”. Then the opposite, with those shut down completely by fearing any dissenting voice and argue against a position that two people can disagree without there being hardship, confrontation, or resentment.
However, neither stifling silence nor explosive demonstrations are a counter to irresponsible behavior, and neither will solve the matter at hand.
When a FIGHT occurs, logic has left the building. I do not believe there is a reasonable justification why an individual (in possession of their faculties and sufficient emotional self-control and maturity) can’t discuss things in reasonable or balanced fashion. At the very least, know when to take a break as emotions rise to potentially negatively impacting or drama inducing levels – and once cooler minds prevail, come back to the table. By this standard, if such cannot be done, then there isn’t sufficient possession of faculty, emotional self-control, or maturity; in which case I am sorry, but I cannot save you from that dysfunction.
A Different Viewpoint
There are those that will bristle at the above, and if so, might I ask why? Is our concept of ourselves so bound in the Need to fight, to create conflict that there is no other way or possible solution available to us?? Is the need to “express ourselves” inherently bound with a lack of mental awareness, self discipline, and respect for oneself and one’s partner?
A fight, as described with shouting, insults, demeaning statements, trivializing the other, is dishonorable in a relationship… Such behavior makes 3 critical missteps in a relationship that is absolutely require to be upheld to last
- Coming from a place of intention that builds connection or preserves it (your partner is not your enemy)
- Choosing to engage the other constructively, openly and responsibly (feeding connection, not dismantling it)
- Being honest about your needs without projecting hurt or anticipating it (embracing vulnerability)
Ultimately, a big fight is dishonorable to yourself, for it robs you of opportunity to responsibly express yourself. The fight also fails to appreciate the experience of the other, often casting blame or guilt by re-authoring their actions versus stating your perceptions or understandings. Lastly, the fight is more about wanting to be heard how you hurt, and less about actually seeking to solve issues that results in the hurt.
In other words, all too often people act in the illusion that the “freedom of expression” has no consequences. It is dishonorable to the other and the relationship, who is a vested partner and (typically) not your enemy, but is desperately trying to understand and struggle with both your emotions and their own. The Relationship, if we look at it like a 3rd person or an infant, needs to be fed with understanding, patience, direction, and active investment and attention to help nourish it and grow and receive the acceptance that its being both listened to and also properly guided (as any young child would need).
A Culture of Narcissism
For far too long the updated generation of elementary of child raising has focused on the message that has fostered a narcissistic complex which is playing out in todays relationships. There are messages which, while well intended, have a direct impact on ones developing world view and how individuals relate to others (or not). Some of the below illustrate these points, with my refute:
You are special – to your parents and family and friends, perhaps, but in the broad scope of the world as a whole, not so much. Nature is coldly indifferent and owes you nothing, for the rule of nature is survival and that takes hard work, tenacity, adaptability, and a strength of self to keep picking yourself up when you take a fall.
Kids should be kids – they are kids because and only because they are not yet adults, which is how they will spend the majority of their life. The purpose of being a child is to grow up into a responsible, capable, and hopefully happy adult that can define their own lives, goals, aspirations, and attempt to achieve them.
You should express yourself – expression of the self is what gives birth to literature, music, dance, and all forms of art. It is challenging at times, disagreeable or pleasurable depending on one’s tastes and beliefs, but it does not deny your ability to be treated without some measure of respect. Expression is not without impact or consequence, for good or for ill – its up to you to choose and are responsible for its outcome.
You deserve this – you deserve nothing what has not been earned other than an initial show of civility, respect and consideration. The tendency to spoil children with high cost electronic devices, teens with new cars, and inundation with entertaining gizmos has distracted people from the priority of relationships with People versus the relationship with Things and Stuff.
Its OK, they’re only a child – we have made far too many rules by which bringing accountability of action to bear impossible. Punishments and Consequences for bad behavior is now null and void in the school systems of many states and social services. We are expected to just forgive bad decisions and consequences, negotiate with them as if they are adults (whereas brain maturity needs approximately 25yrs to be fully realized), and parents themselves have abdicated much of their role and responsibility because raising a child is challenging.
Its therefore little wonder why statistical research on the health of relationships show shorter longevity, more partners through the life of an individual, and a falling rate in stable long-term relationships (regardless of sex, gender, or number of stable partners). There has been a cultivated habit that has essentially excused people from learning basic emotional self-management skills in controlling their impulses and emotions, expectation of entitlement and special treatment, etc.
So then how does one resolve misunderstandings or conflicts?? Actually it’s fairly simple in theory, but it requires a great amount of self-discipline, awareness, and practice:
- Never go with the emotional impulse: stop and gather your thoughts.
- What is your need in communicating, what is the expected outcome?
- Remind yourself that this other person is not your enemy, but someone you value deeply.
- Avoid saying what someone else did, but rather what you saw or experienced, and how that made you feel.
- Focus on what your need is; less “I hate it when you do X”, and more “what I would really need or appreciate is Y”.
- No matter where the other person goes, or how they push, demonstrate respectful behavior – not for their sake, but for yourself.
- Take breaks to gather yourself, to breathe, clear the head and the air, but never give up – pace tenacity with patience.
- Lead by example with boundaries; for the choices of the other neither necessitates you mirror their behavior, nor excuse it.
- Once settled ask yourself, was this trip really necessary, what could YOU have been done differently for a better outcome?
My experience is that many conflicts arise from a lack of appreciating the other person’s emotional state or circumstances, and what triggers the conflict is often a matter of timing, communication skill, or use of vocabulary. Bear some of the above in mind, and you will be closer to moving from communication as a blockage, to communication as a builder. At the very least remember these simple things to avoid:
- No violence, you are an adult and expected and required to develop self-control.
- No hurling insults, threats, curses or objects for you should KNOW better choose to show self-control.
- No screaming or tantrums – you are not six years old and expecting to be allowed that luxury is just narcissism.
- No nagging and hounding, its past time to realize that nothing is achieved without effort and time – have an appreciation for delayed gratification.
Yes – this expects much, but I believe in no less… for we ARE capable of this. Take yourself aside and take the appropriate measures to calm, breathe, and reset before you destroy both the feelings of the other and the hope of the Relationship.
Copyright 2014 Limits Unleashed