How many times have you fought about stuff with your mate end up solving nothing? Too often is usually the answer. Conflicts don’t get actually settled, you just move on. You get tired of arguing, you have to deal with life—kids, jobs, bills. So, you gradually fall back into being alongside one another. You kiss and make up, which means you still love each other and you don’t want to fight anymore.
But this doesn’t actually fix anything.
The arguments sit in the relationship like landmines that go off when you jostle them. You may find yourselves having many fights over the same issue. The arguments themselves can take on a recognizable structure: one of you bitches and complains(not usually how the one speaking views this) and the other one either tries to defend or sits saying nothing. Either partner just sitting saying nothing is usually a bad thing because it demonstrates that they’ve given up, not expecting anything they say to make a difference. This can be maddening (which the quiet one typically knows) when one partner expresses him or herself and gets no response.
Unresolved conflict is relationship poison. It sits silent and deadly, building up like sediment in a pond, choking the life and emotion from the relationship.
There are two kinds of conflict in a relationship—conflict of values and conflict of emotions. The former usually isn’t resolved, since settling things would mean that one partner ceases to have beliefs or abandons his/her beliefs for the other (a recipe for resentment down the road). Conflict of emotion has a lot to do with poor communication. By far the most frequently kinds of conflict, this one calls for both partners learning to listen.
Listening—which most think they do—is very difficult. It means actually hearing the other person’s perspectives and feelings, even when you don’t agree with these. When you really hear your partner, you can actually repeat back exactly what has been said to you—and your partner will be able to confirm that yes, this was exactly what was said.
Trust me on this—most don’t functionally listen. If you did, your partner would feel heard. And then you’d get to say your piece to ears that are more receptive. Then when you both feel heard, you’re equipped to move toward a resolution you both feel comfortable with.
Few of us like to argue, so I say…do it right, so you don’t have to do it often.