ONE PERSPECTIVE SHIFT YOU NEED WHEN YOU CAN’T CHANGE ANYTHING ELSE
My body sometimes feels sore, but it works. I haven’t slept well in a few nights, but I have been waking up in one piece. My wallet is not full, but my stomach is. I don’t have all the things I’ve ever wanted, but I do have everything I need right now. I’m thankful, because although my life is by no means perfect, it is MY life and I choose to be thankful in it, as I continue to do the best I can.
To a certain extent, I’m sure you can relate.
For all of us, every day, it’s about keeping things in perspective and then letting our perspective inspire the next step forward.
EMOTIONAL ATTRACTION: MAINTAINING CONNECTION IN CONFLICT DISCUSSIONS
We’ve spent the last two weeks on The Gottman Relationship Blog discussing emotional intimacy, sharing tools to keep the fire alive in your relationship over the long haul. This week, we feel that it would be pretty helpful to touch on its role in conflict and conflict discussions.
When you argue, fight, or disagree with your partner, do you feel emotionally intimate with them? This question sounds like a joke. It sort of is. The truly funny (and ironic) thing is that it doesn’t have to be.
Our inclination to laugh stems from a universally accepted sociocultural belief that fighting is the antithesis of emotional intimacy. Our research suggests otherwise.
CONFLICT KILLS COMMUNITY (BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO)
The most extreme conflicts conclude with bullets flying and bombs dropping. But the vast majority of conflicts in our world don’t make the CNN scroll. They begin with far more subtle differences of opinion, and they destroy relationships and community. Siblings fight over, well, everything. Teenagers fight over the best ways to feel liberated. In marriages, we constantly disagree about who is giving more to the relationship, and the peaceful community within our four walls is splintered. In our churches, we disagree about how to worship or which people deserve to be loved—we wear our smiles like armor but nothing is redeemed or reconciled, and eventually a group of us start a new church community down the block. In our workplaces, we disagree about how frequently to meet or whose project should get funded, and the cubicle walls become like prison cells, everyone in their own solitary confinement. In our nation, we slander anyone with a different political ideology—we do it via commercials, telephone campaigns, debates, and dinner table conversations, and we become a national community in gridlock.
Differences between people create tension, discomfort, and fear. Tension leads to conflict, and conflict results in distance at best and violence at worst. All of it becomes fatal to relationships and connectedness and the community we so badly need. Conflict kills community. But it doesn’t have to.
In fact, sometimes, conflict can be the beginning of authentic community.