What is the number one reason for divorce? Is it finances? Affairs? Midlife crises? Differences of opinion on raising children? Communication? Growing apart? Abuse? No! These are all symptoms of the cause for divorce. The number one cause of divorce is … failure to do conflict right. When we fail to do conflict the right way, those things above (and more) eventually blow up and destroy!
Conflict is vital to our relationships, all relationships, not just marriage. Conflict is the doorway to intimacy. You see, our marriage (or any relationship) is in only one of three states at any given time.
1. Intimacy. In a good place. In a state of intimacy. Friends that are connecting where the relationship is healthy. Where two people are able to communicate at the deeper levels of communication; talking about feelings and needs. This is where we were designed to be, this is the place that we long to live.
2. Isolation. In a bad place. Two people have withdrawn. If there is conversation here, it is happening at the first levels of communication only. Here we talk about clichés. Hi. How are you? Nice weather. Or we talk about facts. What time do we need to get the kids? What are the plans this weekend? Those topics that are essential to logistically coexist. At some point, this isolation leads to not only mental withdrawal where someone has “checked out”, but to physical withdrawal where someone moves out!
3. Conflict. If we are not in a good place, I’ll call this intimacy and we are not in a bad place, I’ll call that isolation, then we are in a state of active conflict. And this can be a good place to be – only if the conflict is done right!
The good news about conflict is that there are two extremely beneficial outcomes, if the conflict is done right.
A. Conflict is the doorway to intimacy. If we are in a state of isolation and we want to restore that intimacy, then we have to go through the doorway of conflict. We need to know this so that we can use that tool that restores relationships. But remember, this doorway swings both ways – if we do conflict bad, it takes us from a state of intimacy back to a state of isolation.
B. Conflict drives our communication to deeper levels. Here we are able to not only discuss our opinions but our feelings and needs as well. Here is here we can use this tool to complete our needs? This is our opportunity to grow the relationship deeper. This is our opportunity to change course in our relationship and to obtain what you need to grow as a person as well.
How is your relationship? Perhaps you can be wise and take advantage of conflict and commit to doing it right (see my next post: “Doing Conflict Right”). Think about it, this tool will allow us to create a better relationship. Is there anything more valuable than this?