Ever experienced conflict in relationships?
I’ve lost count how many people I’ve come across who want that Disney-like happily-ever-after marriage or relationship with their partner.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if human life was exactly like that? Such a pity we can’t turn into cartoon characters!
Here’s what a respected study found.
Dr. Gottman and Robert Levenson began doing longitudinal studies of couples in the 1970s. They asked couples to solve a conflict in their relationship in 15 minutes, then sat back and watched.
After carefully reviewing the tapes and following up with them nine years later, they were able to predict which couples would stay together and which would divorce with over 90% accuracy.
The difference between happy and unhappy couples is the balance between positive and negative interactions during conflict.
The ration between positive and negative interactions is 5 to 1. This means that for every negative interaction during conflict, a stable and happy marriage has five or more positive interactions.
However, if the positive interactions go to 11 to 1 or above, that relationship is also doomed. Boredom sets in and nobody can hack being elated all the time.
Hence, conflict in relationships is necessary to help the couple grow together and to get them to stay together.
Negative interactions could include anger, criticism and contempt. Positive interactions include showing interest in the other person, expressing affection, showing that your partner matters, consciously appreciating, empathising, apologising, making jokes (that both find funny!!), finding opportunities to agree and accepting your partner’s perspective.
So there you have it. Running away from conflict within your relationship does not fix your ability to deal with conflict. All you will do is take the same broken thinking to the next relationship and bleed over the next person.
Embrace conflict and address it appropriately. In due course, you will discover that you have a much more harmonious relationship than you’d envisaged.