You think you can say all that, everything you just said to me? You think you can repeat that to your husband?’ asked my therapist as I sat across from her on the tufted grey couch with plush navy and kelley green pillows.
‘Yeah for sure. That’s a pretty normal for us in terms of openness and honest communication.’ I responded
‘Do you think he will respond in an upset or angry way when you say all that?’ she countered.
‘Probably so but I’d much rather that than him not saying anything or pretending like it wasn’t upsetting to him.’ I explained.
‘Wow, I can tell you both have done a lot of work in your relationship to be able to have conversations like that.’ she added.
Over the weekend, I approached my husband and we had the conversation that I had discussed with my therapist. It was about budgeting and our finances which is always the makings for delightful conversation.
We have one in our marriage who is a spender & another who is a saver. We'd been having some tension around our finances so we set a time we would talk about it.
11am Saturday morning budgeting meeting. Super fun.
True to my prediction, I said almost verbatim what we had discussed in our session, and also true to my prediction, he was upset by it. Very upset.
We debated and argued for the next half hour over our finances.
He very explicitly told me about the anger he felt and his growing resentment as I in turn told him about my anger and mounting frustration.
For those of you who hate conflict and avoid it like the plague, reading this is probably making you break out in hives. You’re probably dying for me to hurry up and get to the point that we make up and make out.
But that never happened.
We didn’t make up and make out, but something better happened.
We did not agree.
We did not resolve our issues concerning out finances in a way that was nice and neat and all tied up.
In fact, it's still an ongoing discussion, a work in progress.
We are continually working, communicating, experiencing conflict over this together but we are also finding connection through it.
And if I could sum it up, that’s why we don't hate conflict.
Because it's through conflict that I learn new things about my husband, I learn about the inner reality he lives with, the way he sees the world, and why he thinks that way he does and makes decisions he makes.
Because when we disagree, I am challenged with my own beliefs, perceptions and realities.
Because when we have differences, we connect and understand in deeper ways that we could ever have hoped to without the differences that make us who we are.
Because when we approach potentially difficulty conversations consciously and with compassionate hearts, while we may experience conflict, often the conflict is the catalyst to connection