Avoiding conflicts in relationship makes for big shocks
She had the same old fight she always had with her husband, but this time, he threw his hands up and said he was done. She was shocked when he took off his ring and moved out of the bedroom. He rarely comes home from work anymore. She wants to save her marriage, but it may be too late. So far he isn’t even interested in talking to her much less going to marriage counseling.
In my private sessions with her, it has become clear that she and her husband didn’t resolve conflicts during their 30 years of marriage. They fought, and then later would act like nothing happened. They didn’t talk about their feelings, their unmet needs, their dysfunctional sex life, their hurts and disappointments. They didn’t talk about their fears, expectations and desires.
They worked hard at two jobs, made good money, raised a family, built a house, and bought a boat and a motorcycle and a bunch of animals. On the surface, they look like the typical happy couple who have it all. But now, estranged and separated and on the road to divorce, the hidden long time dissatisfaction of their relationship is apparent, and they are at risk of losing everything they have built.
Avoiding conflicts turns into a divorce story
Sadly, their story is quite the everyday divorce story. One person becomes increasingly unhappy and dissatisfied, until one day when they hit a breaking point, much to the shock and dismay of their spouse who had no idea their marriage was even in trouble.
As one woman shared whose husband came home from work one day and announced he was leaving while packing his bags, “He tended to keep things inside. I had no idea he was that unhappy.” Or as a man angrily shared after his wife left him for another man, “I knew we had problems. I just figured we would get to them someday.”
Avoiding conflict is commonplace
Conflict avoidance in relationship is common. Not surprising when you think about it. Conflicts can feel uncomfortable, scary and excruciatingly painful, especially when left unresolved. They are the potential killers of love, connection, and harmony. “Better to not bring out our differences lest we discover ourselves incompatible” we think. “Better to not ask for what we want in case we get rejected and feel hurt.”
Unfortunately, avoiding conflict or fighting without resolution can wear down a relationship to the point of divorce. And if even if you soldier through, unresolved conflicts will result in barriers between you, leading to emotional separation.
None of us were taught conflict resolution skills in school. We don’t know how to talk to each other when differences or conflicts arise. We don’t know how to listen or what to listen for. We don’t know how to get to the heart of what we really want. We don’t know what to do with our hurt, our disappointment, our anger or resentment. We don’t know how to apologize or rebuild trust. We don’t know how to explore, ask questions, make discoveries and create win/win solutions that take care of us both. In short, we don’t know how to resolve problems and conflicts in relationships. No wonder we either avoid them or fight about the same things over and over again until we just can’t stand it anymore.
Conflicts can be frustrating and beneficial
I used to be frustrated by hours and hours of processing that went nowhere in my relationships. I hated how powerless I felt to create positive outcomes! Christian used to avoid conflicts altogether, and just move from one relationship to another when problems built up.
Through study and practice, we learned conflict resolution and reparation tools. Through trial and error, we invented a system for creating win/win solutions to take care of everyone’s concerns. Taken together, we are now able to resolve our conflicts quickly, all the way to completion. We clean up breakdowns. We take responsibility for our actions and needs, and we offer apologies and amends. We respect and hear each other. We validate each other’s needs and concerns. We stay in there until we come up with win/win solutions to problems. We postpone making major decisions or taking action until we are both completely aligned and in agreement about what we want to do. As a result, we don’t have longstanding unhealed hurts or held resentments from the past that get reactivated when negative feelings arise.
Conflict resolution skills are gold
We are now in a position to pass these skills on to you, to offer you practical tools you can use when you feel stuck, hurt or lost, and when differences, problems or conflicts arise. To us and thousands of couples and individuals, these tools have been solid gold. As one man said, who had already separated from his wife when he found LoveWorks, then repaired and revived his marriage: “It’s like a second honeymoon knowing we have these tools and we can get back to the connection, to our love”.
The gift of conflict
We have come to believe that conflict are in fact gifts to our relationship. Yes, we know at some level we’d all just rather not have any conflicts, period! But that’s not a realistic desire, and since conflicts are going to be part of our relationship, we might as well milk them for all their worth. Our Level 2 online workshop is actually titled The Gift of Conflict. This workshop will teach you the skills you need to resolve conflicts, and to find and leverage the gifts of challenging problems. You will discover that when used properly, conflicts can strengthen and build your relationship rather than break them down. One couple that came to our course resolved a fight they had had for ten years about what to do with their messy garage, in ten minutes! “I can’t believe all of the time we wasted”, she said. “I wish we had known these skills years ago!”
Our upcoming live mini-workshop, How To Rebuild Trust in Relationship, will teach you a step-by-step process for how to work together to repair damage from broken agreements or past hurts.
And our online self-study mini-course How to Make An Apology That Works will teach you the six essential steps to make an effective apology that actually repairs damage and supports a forgiveness and growth path. As one woman said whose partner attended How to Make An Apology That Works, “My boyfriend delivered the most sincere, heartfelt, specific apology like none I’ve ever received, nor ever delivered. It had LoveWorks fingerprints (heart prints) all over it.”
If you are stuck in painful breakdown and fighting about the same stuff over and over again, come learn a better way: The LoveWorks Solution: Proven Path to Empowered Relating and Fulfilling Intimacy.
Note: During Covid, we are offering low-cost online mini-course options, and partial or full scholarships to weekend workshops by application. Contact us with any questions