The Conflict Myth
Updated: Feb 25
Copyright: vargabandi / 123RF Stock Photo
We have all heard people say: “You need conflict in your marriage.” or “Fighting is good for our marriage because we are better when we make up.” Marriage “experts” even claim: “It’s healthy to have conflict in your marriage.”
I’m tired of hearing that garbage. It makes it sound so noble to fight with your spouse.
Hearing people say conflict is necessary for a good marriage makes me scratch my head. Sure, happy couples fight but it’s not conflict that makes their relationship healthy. Couples with healthy relationships focus on connection.
I have found assisting couples in marriage counseling to learn “fighting fair” skills, conflict resolution skills, or anger management skills, doesn’t work because any learning or changing remains superficial. When actual conflict comes, the skills crumble because the focus is misguided.
The key to conflict management in marriage is to increase connection. You don’t need to worry about conflict when you focus on intimacy.
Conflict is real and messy in marriage. Most of the time a single conflict will not break a relationship but the build up of deep hurt resulting from ongoing conflicts is not healthy.
Conflict is no match for secure connection, true intimacy.
In the summertime I enjoy working in the yard. I’ve said I do my best thinking when mowing the lawn. Two summers ago we put in our lawn, we sprinkled grass seeds on the dirt and eventually the tiny grass started to sprout. Unfortunately, goat head weeds and evil crab grass also sprouted and quickly outgrew the precious grass. I wanted my lawn to look like the Scott’s Fertilizer commercial, but it was patchy with ugly and painful weeds. So I went about the business of eliminating the weeds. I tried various chemical weed killers and lots of old fashioned pulling. It helped some but they always came back. I eventually gave up my quest to kill every last weed. Instead I concentrated on fertilizing the good grass. The lawn looked better and better and to my surprise I found fewer and fewer weeds.
Conflict in marriage is like weeds in a lawn. Sure, great lawns still have an occasional weed but the healthy grass overwhelms them and you enjoy a lush green lawn. Great marriages have conflict but the connection and intimacy shared overwhelms the momentary argument.
The key to a wonderful marriage is not to forbid, dread, or manage conflict. The key to a wonderful marriage is to increase connection.
What are you doing to fertilize connection in your marriage?