September 27, 2022

The One Thing we Keep Getting Wrong about Conflict in our Relationships.

 

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When it comes to relationships, starting a fight takes almost zero emotional energy.

Unless we’re plotting to start sh*t with our partner (yeah, we’ve all been there…), most fights begin because one or both people react instead of respond. Or because we’re listening to reply instead of listening to understand. Or because we’re not dealing with our own stuff and instead projecting it on our partner.

It can feel unconscious. Even habitual.

Then, seemingly without warning, we’re in conflict.

And ending a fight once it’s in motion? Well, that’s where most of the emotional energy comes in—and it can be exhausting.

What I’m learning in my relationship with every passing year is that conflict is a tool that’s meant to, ultimately, bring us closer.

But since that’s the opposite of everything we’ve been taught about love and connection, we avoid fighting like the plague, even when that means avoiding our own feelings or the obvious issues in our partnership.

And when we avoid the reality of our situation, we just create more conflict in ourselves and our relationships.

(Cue the petty fights, the ego-fueled fights, the why-do-we-always-fight-about-this fights, the you-don’t-care-about-me fights, the I-can’t-believe-you-turned-this-into-a-fight fights…)

There is a different way to look at conflict though.

Recently, author Jeff Brown posted a quote on Instagram from his book, Hearticulations, that so perfectly explains what so many of us keep getting wrong about conflict:

 

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Fighting, with our partner or our friend or our family, isn’t the issue. (Note: this is only true in healthy, not abusive or dangerous, relationships.)

The issue is what choice we make once the fight has begun.

Do we walk away

Do we choose to believe the worst about our partner?

Or…

Do we choose to stay?

Do we choose to get curious about our partner?

Honestly, these choices aren’t always easy. I get them wrong just about as many times as I get them right.

But slowly, I’m learning to acknowledge the fear the comes with staying. The fear that comes with getting curious about why these fights began. The fear that comes with walking toward my partner when it would be so easy to walk away. The fear that comes with trying to deepen our connection even when I’m pissed off and annoyed and emotionally ready to rumble.

Because on the other side of all that emotional energy just might be the kind of connection we’ve been hoping to build.

~

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