Ever wonder why you’re still fighting? Wish there was something you could do about it? I talk to tons of people who are in relationships that have the same cycle – someone states an opinion, the other notes their opposing thoughts, the other person disagrees with that, then the other explains all their reasons why they think what they think… and too often, this discussion escalates into something ugly… rinse well, repeat… and so on and so on…
Here’s why you’re still fighting – and before I share this with you, please take note that I’ve been there – and I still have a couple of relationships that are challenging for me, so don’t feel blamed, I’m literally still learning with you! But here we go… here’s why you’re still fighting…
You’re thinking I mean the other person, right?
Nope, it’s both of you. (remember, me too sometimes!)
Think about it like this – according to research, couples who are healthy have a ratio of 20 positive interactions to one negative. During conflict, they have a ratio of 5 positive interactions to one negative. DURING CONFLICT. How’d that last conflict go for you? Were you gentle and kind? Or were you ushering in the four horsemen of the apocalypse? (Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling, Contempt)
So let’s think about this with a simple analogy. Babies. Unhealthy conflict isn’t really any different than an infant’s natural egocentrism in communicating needs – it’s all about them. Babies literally don’t care if it is 3am if they are hungry. They aren’t even aware you’ve been jostled harshly out of deep sleep…
They want what they want when they want it.
And they usually get it. That’s why we spend the first four years of a child’s life teaching them how to function in human society. Otherwise, catering to their wants creates at worst a child who grows into an adult who doesn’t know how to share, take turns, who can’t handle disagreement or not getting their way, or interact socially in a way that helps them get along, or is narcissistic. Neglect can do likewise. Abuse can as well.
Seems to me, and maybe I’m wrong here, but it looks like God wants us all to grow up so we can fulfill the first and second most important commandments – to Love God with ALL our hearts, souls, minds, and strength – and to love our neighbor as ourselves. That tween, teen, spouse, coworker, boss, friend, or mother-in-law may have the emotional maturity of a 2-year-old when confronted with conflict. And yes, I know that Jesus said we should become like little children – I am inclined to think He means the behaviors that most humans love about little kids, their likeability, their affinity for play, and their sense of wonder at the world.
But in conflict? When we’re getting disagreed with by someone who is defensive and immature or worse yet, starts a conversation harshly? Let’s NOT respond in kind. That then makes US defensive and immature.
Instead, let’s respond in LOVE. Sometimes that’s serving. Sometimes that’s boundaries. It’s always patient, kind, not jealous, not arrogant, dishonoring, or selfish. It’s not easily angered and literally keeps no accounting of evil. Love rejoices with truth and takes no delight in evil. It protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres and doesn’t fail.
That’s a lot.
And we can’t do that. But the Jesus in us can.
So next time you feel that stiff-necked, defensive fighting response, and maybe even the temptation to try to shame someone else, no matter how stinky they are being, stop talking. Take a step back. Ask our Daddy what He has to say about it.
Stop doing what you always do – show up differently in this conflict. Even if all you can muster is taking a break from the discussion. Maybe God will show you how to interact differently. It might look like this.
See what He begins to create for you in your relationships! And let me know YOUR thoughts on this!! I’m interested. I may have left something out, too, so share what you know!
Love to you,
P.S. We’re beginning a new run of the Strength & Dignity eCourse – The Respect Dare is now part of that class. In a sentence, it’s how to respect yourself and others while deepening your relationship with God. Here’s the link if you feel led to join us: https://www.greaterimpact.org/strength-dignity-ecourse and yes, it will help you learn how to stop fighting. 🙂