Tag Archives: conflict

The Latest Wow: The Great Divide

grand canyon


Not long ago, I was counseling a couple when one partner, Tracie, wowed me with this:

“There will be days in which I will get mad at you and you will get mad at me but we will resolve it. I don’t want to live a life of avoidance.”

Tracie is on to something. Avoidance is no way to inhabit a relationship . . . it isn’t living. It’s compromise; it’s existing in a space of bitterness and resentment; it’s detachment. And detachment grows like an untreated fungus. Pretty soon, a canyon-sized gap defines the nature of the relationship. Not good. Problems don’t get resolved, discussion is thwarted so misunderstandings are allowed to flourish, and wounds don’t get healed—only compounded.

Problems don’t magically go away. They grow fatter if ignored. And we can’t rely on time to do the healing. It doesn’t always work that way.

Dr. John Gottman, an acclaimed marital researcher, doesn’t mince words. He maintains that such relationships are doomed, and further states that unaddressed issues and avoidance are more detrimental to relationship health than conflict. At least in the midst of conflict, he continues, passion and engagement are occurring.

All of that makes sense. Can we really feel close to someone who isn’t receptive to talking things out, who’s unwilling to listen to our point of view, who’s unwilling to work on arriving at a common understanding, who’s unwilling to get vulnerable and naked with their truth? Of course not. It takes mutual understanding—more so than agreement, actually—to spawn an intimate connection.

Thich Nhat Hanh put it perfectly:

“Love is made of understanding and understanding is made of love. “

And, let’s face it, understanding can’t happen unless we have the courage to share honestly, gently, and with an open heart.


Names are changed to honor client confidentiality




Filed under Couples, General Interest, The Latest Wow!

The Latest Wow: She Won’t Let it Go!

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????All men reading that title instantly know what it means. Yep—they do. Not only is it a common complaint among men in general, it’s a common complaint among my male clients.

No question, guys would prefer—no, jump at the chance—to run a 20 mile marathon, uphill, rather than answer to a “we-need-to-talk” invitation from their female partner. Why is that? Could be they anticipate being dragged endlessly through the mud. It happens. Pure torture.

So avoidance is understandable. Who gleefully walks into a battlefield? Actually, according to scientific research, women don’t mind it as much. For us,  peace can and is often sacrificed for the sake of confronting a bothersome issue.

Not so for men. Their brains actually suffer more—undergo greater stress—in such encounters.  Could be why they work so hard to avoid them, or why they use humor to lighten things up.

Another thing that can be agonizing for a man is discussing a problem that doesn’t have a solution or apparent end. Pure torture, again.

So women take note—there’s hope! Your man may be more willing to participate in touchy discussions when he receives a “hey-I-need-your-input” invitation. It sounds friendlier and carries a message that an end is in sight—a solution can be reached!

The reason I’m writing about this is so I can share with you what a man said to his wife not long ago in the midst of one of those elongated and stressful discussions. I’m still laughing about it:

“What do I have to say to make you feel you won because I’m tired of rehashing the same old thing.” 

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Filed under Couples, The Latest Wow!