I am going to talk to you today about conflict in marriages and in relationships. How it happens and why, and what you can do about it. This blog will embrace a Christian perspective.
Almost every couple that I have ever counseled will say to me, on their first visit "We don't communicate, "There is nothing between us"; "there is no intimacy"; "We sleep in separate rooms". There are other things that cause a rift between people such as infidelity and various addictions. That is not what I am addressing today. I am addressing issues caused by a loss of connection.
When we fall in love, the world seems perfect, our partners are perfect and we are overflowing with joy. We get married, and for a while, usually a couple of years, the joy remains. However, it is inevitable that at some point, the marriage goes into a conflict phase. This is what, in Imago we call the Power Struggle. It is not the end of the relationship, in fact it is actually an opportunity to create a deeper, more sustainable love.
In order to talk about this, let's go back to scripture, to Genesis 1:26-27 to be more precise, where God says we are all created in his image, we all have that divine DNA within us and what a wonderful blessing that is. It is always our lifeline in times of difficulty. What it actually says is that there is a thread of sacredness within each one of us.
When a relationship moves into the Power Struggle, or into a conflict phase, what happens is that we no longer see that divine spark in our partner, we lose that perception of perfection that made us fall in love in the beginning. Our style of communication becomes disrespectful as we hurl insults at our partners, as our anger overflows and overwhelms our partner and ourselves. And what does our partner do? What would you do? We respond in defence of who we are as people, we react to preserve our sense of self, our divine centre. We both do that as the conflictual conversation moves to and fro between us. And as we do this we are building a survival suit that slowly but surely puts layers and layers of protection around us and eventually no-one can reach us - we have withdrawn, we no longer want to be hurt, so we disconnect.
How do we fix this? There is a well known saying that says that if we keep doing the same things, we will get the same result. If we continue to talk to each other, without respect, without honouring the divine in the other, we will continue to withdraw, until there is no longer a relationship.
In Imago we help you to do things differently. we help you to find another way of connecting, one that doesn't dishonour or hurt, One that shows respect for each other. It is amazing how many problems you can solve when you learn this technique. Dialogue creates an extremely powerful dynamic of connection. People say how wonderful it is to feel that they have been heard for the first time in a long time. Dialogue brings the truth to the surface in a way that is not hurtful, and in a way that it can be used to bring harmony and caring into the relationship.