Conflict, The Golden Path to Intimate Connection in Marriage Conversation:
A favorite scene in the Wizard of Oz has Dorothy confronting the Wizard. “You’re a fraud” she says after Toto has knocked down the screen separating him from the four adventurers. “No I’m not” he replies. “I’m simply trying to help..”
Dorothy’s anger came from the revelation that the wizard she sought was no wizard at all. That wizard lived entirely in her head. His magic was her creation. His imagined gifts were all her projected hopes. But the confrontation didn’t end with despair. What happened was this: the wizard showed the young people that what they were after was already within them.
This is one way conflict works. We get all amped up about some imagined lack in our relationship, and the easiest thing to do is dump the responsibility for that lack on our partner – ‘you’re the reason we haven’t had sex in a month;’ ‘you’re the reason we’re broke’ etc.
Conflict, fully embraced, takes us toward ourselves in this way. I’m angry. What is driving the anger? If we haven’t had sex for a month, how am I bringing or not bringing my needs/ my warmth/ my fear/ my habitual distancing – to my partner? Not – what is she doing. But – how am I showing up.
The golden road that conflict provides is the road of embracing transparency. Conflict brings good sometimes huge energy to a relationship. It can be seen as ‘bad’ and easily dismissed or diagnosed or ‘managed’ – or it can be seen as the possible source of new life.
Stephen W. Frueh PhD is a coach, consultant, writer and speaker. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805 338 4286
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