Creative Combat Or the Art of Fighting and Winning at the Same Time
Do you fight to win?
Do you fight fair?
Do you fight just because?
Do you avoid conflict?
Do you play nice too often?
Do you think your relationship is over if you fight?
No matter what the reason conflict appears to be a part of our society, our family relationships and predictably our life partner relationship. Everyone comes from a different background, genetic endowment, family history and life experience. These differences come out when we fight and when we avoid conflict too.
In the life partner relationship there is a tendency to think that conflict is generically bad – no matter where it stems from. This is conflict avoidance in its purest form and many people, including myself, try to win by not engaging in conflict at all! The other end of the spectrum can be seen in certain Mediterranean cultures where loud aggressive confrontations are almost expected if you really care. So whether you come from a background that avoids conflict or embraces it you must learn how to manage it in your life partner relationships.
Constructive vs. Destructive
As any two people entwine their lives there must be changes. Some of these changes will be easy, some will create conflict. The most important thing to grasp are ways of expressing anger that allow both partners to be themselves and yet still not harm the relationship and what expressions will do irrevocable damage.
Being able to express emotion without threatening the relationship is a constructive way of dealing with conflict. Telling your life partner that you are angry about specific behaviors or situations is much more constructive than suggesting that there is something fundamentally wrong with the person or running away and avoiding the whole thing.
Example 1. Constructive:
Aaaaaaaaaaaarggggg! I hate it when dirty shoes are left in the hallway and mud gets tracked onto this expensive new rug I just bought! I feel really choked up inside I feel like I could explode! I want you to know how angry I am right now so that we can come up with a way to avoid this in the future. (Moves shoes to mud room and gets vacuum cleaner.)
Example 2. Destructive:
Aaaaaaaaaaaaa Gggg! I hate it when you leave your dirty shoes in the hallway! You always mess up the house! Why don’t you care about my feelings!! Don’t you know I just bought that rug? You’re such a slob I can’t believe you don’t even take off your shoes before coming in the house! (Throws shoes out the door onto the driveway and slams door.)