My wife and I are considered by many to have a hot, sexy marriage. I must admit, that’s a badge I wear proudly. It seems rare to find couples who met in high school 28 years ago who are still passionately in love. I often get asked what are secret is. Although I’m far from an expert I have created a theory that has greatly helped me. and I’d like to share it with you.
Healing Conflict – According to Mike
Conflicts are one of the greatest relational challenges we face in life. Although they can be painful, they can also provide opportunities for personal growth. In fact, some of my greatest growth stemmed from the hardest trials I have experienced.
If you truly analyze the root of personal conflicts you encounter with another person, you will find that many of them stem from a misalignment of how each person is proportionately valuing two mutually exclusive alternatives. For example, in a marriage one person may value their work more than having dinner as a family at 5:30 pm each night. It isn’t that either party is right or wrong, it’s simply that they are not valuing the two options the same.
Whether it’s intimacy, time together, spending money, or how active a lifestyle they live, all couples have areas in their lives where they’re not in alignment. In such cases, there are three options that will avoid continual conflict:
1. One or both parties genuinely alter their values to come into alignment with the other person in a true and healthy way.
2. You live according to your alignment and your spouse modifies his/her behavior to “artificially” align with your values. In this case, you may be happy and feel that all is good, but your spouse will live in conflict.
3. You adjust your behavior to artificially align with the values of your spouse. In this case, you feel pain and continue to live out of alignment with what you believe.
Clearly the first option is the only healthy solution. In many cases, issues that are creating conflict can be mutually aligned with a discussion and a real look in to what each person is valuing in a situation.
In the case of the above example, the person working while the rest of the family is eating dinner together may not be what they truly want in life. They may just be in a competitive job that requires they work beyond 5:00 even though they truly would like to be at home sharing time with their family over dinner. Or maybe they do value working long hours to provide for their family. …Understanding the WHY behind the behavior is the first step in coming together.
As for #s 2 and 3, these are far more painful and have the greatest chance of creating division and distance in a relationship. From what I have witnessed, it seems there are five possible outcomes:
1. The conflict eventually ends the relationship.
2. One person continues to live out of alignment with their values, in a state of conflict, while the other person goes on; possibly not even realizing they are creating pain for their spouse. This is the case when you hear of someone who thought they had a wonderful marriage and then received surprise divorce papers. They didn’t realize that their spouse was existing in conflict that eventually caused them to snap.
3. Each person compromises and they establish an agreed upon solution that is comfortable to both parties.
4. The person living out of alignment adjusts their values in a healthy way to become in alignment with the other.
5. The person setting the course re-aligns their values.
The reality is that each of us need to question what we are truly valuing in life, and determine which values are healthy and which ones are not. For example, if I was to have a girlfriend on the side, it would be an indication that I might be valuing attention from another above my marriage commitment. This would clearly be an unhealthy value that would not serve me or my family well. I would then get help to realign my values in a healthier way.
The key takeaways that I hope you learn from this are:
1. Talk openly when you are out of alignment with your spouse’s behavior.
2. Never make your spouse wrong when they verbalize that they are out of alignment with you. It isn’t a matter or right or wrong. It’s simply that current values aren’t in alignment.
3. Seek to create a level of safety in your relationship where both parties feel comfortable discussing areas in which they feel conflict.
Having a fulfilling relationship for almost 30 years takes work, hard work. Of course, we work on different issues today than we did back then. It’s a never-ending commitment.
I hope you find value in my theory. It has certainly helped contribute to the success of my relationship. If I get a good response from this, maybe one day I’ll share my fool-proof recipe for a passionate sex life! 😊