If you consume enough Internet Relationship Content (or if you came to Earth from another planet and were studying the humans) you might assume everything about Human Relationships was conflict. So much of our talk about relationships is about fighting - why we do it, how we do it, how to do it more nicely, how to resolve it faster.
I pitch the class I'm teaching Thursday as partly a conflict resolution class, so I'm part of the problem with this one. But - is conflict, or resolving conflict, why you're with any of your partners? Probably not. Probably it's shared joy and trust. Probably it's happiness and in-jokes and the way they flip their hair that you think is really cute and experiences that you've had together. Some of those experiences might not have been joyful (they can involve grief or trials or difficulty or yes, conflict that you resolved, which can build trust). How can we focus our relationship content on something that isn't conflict, when it feels like the stress, the thing we want help with, is the conflict?
Well, the thesis of this class I'm teaching Thursday (very minor spoilers, there's a lot of detail you'll only get if you come) is that we lay the groundwork for less conflict and smoother conflict by shoring up our relationships with deliberate and intentional communication, and with consistent bids to maintain connection. It's about getting to know our partner(s) and in each relationship showing that we're present and have ongoing positive regard for each other. The number of people who act like their partner is just kind of there once they're in a long term connection is astonishing to me, but it's extremely common.
Relationships are about showing we still want to be there with each other in real time, not in nostalgia for years ago when things were great, or in an imagined future when things will be perfect. There are a bunch of techniques we can use if we're struggling to do this in a particular relationship (sometimes we're just talking past each other and learning some different things to try helps, or learning a little about attachment or nervous system regulation to help understand why we have big reactions to different things than our partners is useful - and I include these things as the meat of this class) but the most important thing is to not see your relationship as a battlefield and your partner as an adversary.
Join me for Intentional Relationships: Communication Strategies for Couples on August 24 at 6pm Pacific (9pm Eastern) digitally, produced by Wicked Grounds. Sliding scale tickets are here.