I have been intentionally learning ways to have a connected relationship for many years now. I have been blessed with a committed, forgiving, and loving spouse. Bring those two things together and what happens? Many of the things that used to leave Kelsey and I confused, distant, and resentful now lead to productive conversations. I can see they're productive because they keep us both feeling valued, cared for, and loved inside our relationship. This is nice!
And yet… I still find myself thinking a thought I have had all along: Something is wrong. Our brains are good at looking for and finding problems. That is the job of the brain! But it makes it so important to recognize that conflict in your relationship is not necessarily a problem.
Recently, Kelsey and I spent an evening trying to break a conflict cycle that was happening in our relationship. It seemed like as soon as we began to figure it out, something would happen to flare up the emotions again. We made it to bed time feeling sad and disappointed, but not angry. Better then other times, so I chalk it up as a win!
I noticed myself thinking: I have spent tons of money and poured hours of blood, sweat, and tears into learning all these tools, so why do I still find myself in these positions? In other words, why am I in relationship conflict?
What came to me as I lay there is that it’s as if I am going for perfection. What helped me move past that was to remember that conflict is not the problem. It is a sign that we want a closer relationship with each other. There will always be places of pain as we try to feel this closeness.
Now, I have to make it clear that these things didn't instantly solve the problem. But, we found that the harm was minimal. With a good night's sleep under our belt, the disappointment was processed. We were able to move to a place of feeling really light and happy within the relationship. This was a situation that, in early days of our relationship, I know would have taken three days plus to repair.
No matter where you are in your relationship, there are things that you can do to navigate through your conflict. But no matter where you are in your relationship, conflict doesn't tell us there is a problem. Conflict shows us that there is a relationship. Conflict helps us learn about each other through it.
Conflict helps us learn ways to repair and strengthen our connection.