Friday, July 26, 2013

Practising the art of conflict avoidance in marital relations

When facing the task of sharing my ideas around…there is always this question before me: who would be interested? 

Let’s assume that you are interested in this short reflection?
Speaking about conflict is a gray area…people normally don’t want to focus on it, but when confronted with painful situations that demand a response now…

That is the moment when you want to recall or know the strategies to manage this overwhelming situation…and you don’t have them.

In my own life, conflict seemed to ambush me. Unexpected situations where others were upset at me, about reasons I could not understand…silly behaviors done without any bad intentions, done out of routine decisions, were interpreted as purposeful offenses. 

I didn’t know how to deal with those sudden confrontations, coming out of the blue!

What I never saw coming, was the impact that my own actions could have on others. It was as if I was inside a bubble, only accountable to myself, going along in a world where nobody else was connected with me. People wanting to confront me felt as if they needed to shake up my bubble by screaming at me…or so they told me! 

Has it happened to you? people telling you that whatever you are doing, on your own, however stupid or banal, is for them an offense, an attack or a sleigh of hand? 

I was forced to look at the inter-connectedness of all people…if I go to my office dressing in this or that way, how are people going to react? what kind of message, conscious or unconscious am I sending them? The impact of this perspective is sometimes too much! I want to say: “whatever others think of me is their own business, I don’t have to care about their experiences with me…it’s all in their imagination!”

Now, please, imagine the same scenario between two married people…and the possibilities are dizzying…  There is no easy escape hatch: I can’t say: it’s all in his/her imagination…because that imagination is an active part of the marriage deal: I see you, you see me; then, I see you seeing me, and imagining or interpreting Z, but is really X, (I said: “No dinner today, I will not cook”) and you saw my laziness when I wanted to express my being so tired…You see me seeing you, and coming up with a view of you that is insulting, or demeaning, or denigrating my intentions…

Of course, you know what is coming…I had to begin sending messages and a disclaimer at the same time:
HERE IS THE MESSAGE: “Can we get take out food tonight? Can you get something fast?”
HERE IS THE DISCLAIMER: “I’m telling you this, because I want you to understand my (feelings: I’m dead tired today ) and we need to come up with the best solution to get dinner on the table fast”

I don’t have an easier solution here. Only the option of explaining myself all the time, (for a looong time…) up to the moment when the other person, just by looking at me, will infer the right reason I’m doing X….at this moment, perhaps this is the best definition of a good marriage I can come up with: “a permanent situation where the other person can see my motivations in the right way and go along, without me having to explain myself all the time.”

Now, wouldn’t it be a good thing? It looks like being recognized as the person I am! such a wonderful thing…So much, that I’m ready to fight if I don’t get it!

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