We all know Conflict is stressful and uncomfortable and the level of stress and discomfort is compounded when fighting with a loved one. We avoid the pain of conflict because of the fear of damaging the relationship. But the alternative is a slow demise of the relationship through the resentment that inherently comes with keeping silent about issues that are important to you. Conflict in relationships that are prevalent in our society creates strife that seems to build and grow from one source of conflict to the next. However, strategic conflict creates solutions that results in the most collaborative solution that takes into account all opposing perspectives.
Here are 5 benefits of strategic conflict:
1) Disagreements uncover issues that need to be addressed in your relationship. When we choose not to conflict we choose not to address issues that have arisen that need to be resolved. We tend not to address the issues because are afraid of the way our loved one will receive the issue being addressed. But if we are brave enough to address something that is troubling us we have passed the first step in resolving the issue at hand. For instance, if you notice that every time your spouse gets paid they go on a spending spree and leave you to take care of the bills but you neglect to mention this observation for fear of how it will be received then you are heading down a road to resentment. Instead you could tell your spouse how even though you know it’s not their intention. You feel alone in the management of the finances because their tendency to splurge and you’d really like to discuss ways that you guys can treat yourself in a more cost-effective way that doesn’t put you in jeopardy of losing your place of residence.
2) You get to practice fighting with your spouse (attack the problem not each other). In my experience, I’ve seen that most disagreements are about the opposing solutions to solve the same problem. For instance, You both think that it’s time work on improving your credit score. But your husband may think it’s best to pay a credit counseling agency to help improve your credit. But you may think it’s better money spent just to pay down your debt and contact lenders yourself. The issue comes when we get lost in the details of who has the best logic for the method that should be taken to resolve the issue and this turns into screaming match over the credibility of the person with the opposing solution. The better alternative is focusing on the fact that either method would work but you just need to decide on the best method for you as a couple which is usually some combination of the two methods. For instance, you may reach out to a credit counselor to write letters to get some things off your credit because you don’t have time to write letters. And your spouse may contact the lenders to make a deal to pay down your credit at a percentage of what you owe.
3) You need to challenge your spouse in order for them to grow. The truth is that we all know that we need a little discomfort in order to grow and nothing is more uncomfortable than getting into a disagreement with the one you love. When you are brave enough to have tough conversations about things that you see needing change with your finances it forces your significant other to look at those things to. And through this observation you can start to find new ways of dealing with the issue at hand instead of handling as you always have been. For the partner that splurges when they get paid when the other spouse brings it to their attention they can realize that it is not a healthy way of handling things and can start trying new ways taking care of their needs (practicing self care) without breaking the bank.
4) You need hear things that are uncomfortable in order to grow. And the other side of the shiny coin is that you will also need to be confronted with some the ways you handle finances that are unhealthy or that are out of balance. Unfortunately, being enlighted to our unhealthy habits stings a little and our instant reaction is to become defensive. So learning how to handle criticism with grace is a skill that needs to be practiced at home that is transferable to every other area of your life. When you can be open to hearing another way of handling an issue without becoming defensive or prideful then you are well on your way to growth.
5) Keeping silent spells death for your relationship. To be honest, no one truly wants a yes man/women in their relationship. Because it’s entirely too boring if someone sees you as someone who can NEVER do anything wrong. This is damaging because you get comfortable and never feel the need to step your game up and grow. And being silent about things that are truly important to you plants the seed of resentment that once takes root is almost impossible to get rid of. Which isn’t health for you or your spouse in the long run.
Couples that practice strategic conflict are exemplified by the individuals that bring candid conversation to the table to discuss the issue at hand without trying to verbally attack the other person. As a result, strategic conflict strengths the bond of the marriage and creates a more lasting peace.
So fight with your spouse strategically and often because practice makes perfect. Remember the object is not to just to fight but to be able to come up with dynamic solutions to problems without leaving any lingering strife that will cause damage to the relationship. I’ve shared my strategic fighting techniques with couples which has allowed them to have candid conversations about their finances and as a result strengthen their bond as a couple and keep the peace.