October 14, 2010

Thoughts on Conflicts

No one likes conflict ~ least of all, me! I don't like my heart racing, my eyes welling with tears, my hands going clammy, my emotions running helter-skelter. I don't like being mis-understood and not liked. I don't like being understood and not liked. In the midst of a conflict, I rarely think: oh, joy! an opportunity to learn and grow! I like closure. I like resolution. I like peace, and security, and sameness, and warm, cozy feelings.

After 30 years of marriage to one man, however, I am beginning to sense the richness of opportunity that conflicts provide. I've married a really good man... a really good, but flawed human being, with whom I rarely see eye-to-eye. "Wow, we're so different!" can be heard often around our house. Our differences create minor conflicts; it's our inherent selfishness that creates the major ones. Because we're committed to loving one another for all of this life, time and time again, we have the opportunity to learn and grow because of conflicts. Love requires it.

What does he need? How is he feeling? What is he thinking? How can I see from his perspective? These are questions I'm learning to ask when nothing about him makes sense... when I'm tempted to ask, "Who IS this man?! And tell me again, WHY did I marry him?!" Oh, I know why I married him; and even when I can't figure out who he is at the moment, I do know this man. I know I can trust him. And, so it is in that context of loving commitment, that we resolve our conflicts.

Sometimes we reconcile our relationship without the conflict itself being resolved. We agree to disagree, respectfully. We never name-call. We never say "never" or "always." Never. And we give one another emotional space. Our conflicts no longer threaten the very fabric of our relationship. Being at odds, is just part of the ebb and flow of our life together. I have learned that being us, is more important than being right; and that forgiveness is a continual offering between us.