So very many relationships don’t last the distance. The all-too-common saddest situation is in the dividing. Many of these broken relationships feature people broken by the conflict that shatters that once strong bond.
But it could be a lot different, if only one, to begin with, sees the value in peacemaking. But the other must reciprocate for it to work. Relationships work through reciprocation.
Peacemaking is the commitment and capacity
to make peace in the presence of conflict.
Conflict is inevitable,
especially in intimate relationships.
Only by peacemaking is there hope to negotiate conflict directly. And there’s only one way it works; through doing the inner work of honest reflection about our own contributions to conflict.
Where two people do this in any kind of close relationship, hey presto, there’s union of mind and heart!
CONFLICT AVOIDANCE AND AGGRESSION
Most people avoid conflict like the plague, so they go to many lengths to fawn in the face of difficulty. Indeed, many fraught relationships are started just this way. One or both cannot bring their partner or friend to loving short account. On the other side of a knife’s edge is the other kind of response, where a partner or a friend aggresses, creating the initial cause of the conflict. Usually, the other either meets the initial aggression with aggression or avoidance. Rarely is it that the partner or friend can be a peacemaker by neither aggressing nor avoiding but by addressing.
To the original point, 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. This doesn’t mean half of first marriages, because there are second and third marriages that end in divorce, and sadly more often. But even within a long, enduring marriage there can still be much discontentment for the dysfunctional way conflict is handled.
NOT JUST MARRIAGES...
But it’s not just marriages that are ripped apart by controversy with disputes making their way into the public square. Think of business partnerships that end belly up, best-of-friendships that sour, and work colleague relationships that slowly (or not-so-slowly) become toxic. The closest of relationships bear the clearest risk that a contentious issue might come between them and separate them violently. I’ve seen it so many times and, possibly like you, experienced it personally.
Conflict is handled by habit typically. There’s a dynamic that is set up early in our relationships with others. Those dynamics are tough to shift, because what’s first required is conscious awareness, then the courage to act to set new habits which are difficult to forge.
When you commence a relationship with someone winsome and charismatic, the last thing you expect when the shine wears off is a tyrant. See how the most promising beginnings can herald red flags?
There is always a romance phase in every relationship, not just in coupled relationships.
DON’T OVERLOOK RED FLAGS – GENTLY CONFRONT THEM
In the romance phase, we typically overlook those things that will cause us concern and consternation when the relationships drops out of the clouds and lands with a thud on the ground. Many times, the overlooking is hardly seeing it, or seeing issues and viewing them through rose-coloured glasses.
The commitment and capacity to make peace in conflict means red flags aren’t overlooked, but they are seen and gently confronted. How else are we to know the other person’s responses before we’ve committed to the deepening of relationship?
Many of the most intimate relationships will only prosper if there’s the ability to talk truthfully about conflict. This is the only way enduring relationships will not only survive but thrive.