Most of us don’t like the word conflict. It does not bring warm, fuzzy feelings. For some of us, the thought of conflict drags up some memories that are uncomfortable. If I asked you to think back to your first encounter with conflict, the odds are very high that you had a negative experience. Most of us never learned how to “do” conflict in a healthy way. Very few of us saw it modeled in a healthy way.
The fact is that we all face conflict in our lives. When it happens to you, how do you respond? You can run from it—not the best option, but some would consider this a safe response. You can choose to remain passive and let the one who brings the conflict “win” without a fight—not a great choice either, but it’s also seen as safe by some. You can engage in the conflict; most of us end up doing this at one point or another during our lives. This type of response usually results in a winner and a loser—a decent choice if you are the winner but a rather poor choice if you are the loser. Then there is “healthy conflict.” That sounds like an oxymoron, but in genuine healthy conflict, there is neither a winner nor a loser. No one runs away. No one chooses to not engage and be passive. In healthy conflict, the two people listen to each other’s perspective and respect the differences. In healthy conflict, the idea is to come to a point of resolution or compromise that works for both people. Both walk away as winners, and the relationship becomes stronger as a result.
Conflict in your marriage will either make or break it. If you run, consistently take the passive role, or fight it out, your marriage is in the “break” column. If you take the “healthy conflict” route, your marriage is in the “make” column. It’s your choice: make or break. What will you choose?