“Yes it is, I heard you.”
“You always try to pin the blame on me. If you stayed home once in awhile instead of going golfing, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“Oh, and how about you – you are always out with your girlfriends shopping again…. “
And round and round and round it goes. And we end up with two angry people who continue to find ways to attack, defend and destroy each other.
Have you ever found yourself in such a situation? The anger we feel is intensified as we go along. We dig in our heels believing we are right and refuse to budge.
How did we get into this conflict in the first place? And how do we get out of it? Everybody wants their needs met. Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to be liked and appreciated and respected and….. and the list goes on.
When we find ourselves in an ongoing conflict, we believe that if only the other person would see my point of view, we wouldn’t have to have such discussions. If you cared, wouldn’t you understand my needs?
The only problem with this is the other person is saying the same thing. And since neither person at this point is listening to the other, the conflict simply intensifies.
Conflicts may be divisive, but they can be great teachers
Relationships are never perfect. But it is in them where we learn we are not the end all or the greatest thing on God’s green earth. It is where we discover the art of give and take and that we don’t always get what we want. Compromise and negotiation and sometimes sacrifice is part of the package.
The hidden question within our conflicts is, what do I really want? What do I need from the other? What does the other need from me? What will be different – what will remain the same? What is the most important priority in this conflict? Am I willing to work towards a win-win?
We enter relationships because we need people. We want to be loved and accepted for who we are in spite of our shortcomings. We want to be heard and understood. We want what a relationship can bring, but we aren’t always prepared to work on making it last. Yet, moving in and out of relationships is not very satisfying over the long term.
Several years ago, I put together an eight week class on relationships for my church, drawing from my training and teaching as well as my own personal experiences. Over the summer my blogs will focus on relationships: with friends, spouses and partners, our children, and with God and ourselves.
While I started with an example of conflict, the series will cover communication and establishing the rules for asking for what you want, negotiation and conflict resolution.
When the series is over, it will be offered in book form to those who are following me.
I would love your feedback. Relationships are personal and while I can address this in more general terms, your input can make these blogs even more relevant.