A close friend of ours lost her son five years ago to brain cancer. He was 31. While serving in Iraq as a military interrogator he did a 180 degree turn, became a peace activist and conscientious objector.
Our friendship with his mom goes back ten years. Two or three years after he’d died, we were out for dinner with his mom. I genuinely want to understand the thought process of her son, because I was not where he was on this issue.
I am not a pacifist.
Neither am I a violent person.
I just happen to think when it comes to my personal protection, turning the other cheek is not my only option.
So wading into a conversation with his mom, questioning the reasoning process of his decision had the potential to get a little dicey. (It didn’t, in fact, I think it left me wanting more.)
I refuse to get into debates. Several years ago now, one of my brother-in-laws tried to suck me into a debate about religion, home schooling, etc. He’d grown up in a home with a domineering mom, passive dad, forced to go to church every week. As an adult, he despised anyone that even remotely reminded him of any of that. I get that….
So one family get together he plops down beside me on the couch and wants to start an argument. I’d been told before hand he was gunning for me. 😉
“What about this, What about that?” he began.
I told him that was not what I was about. I said I wasn’t going to debate all of those things with him.
“He believed what he believed, and I believed what I believed. ”
I said all of this with a smirk on my face. When I refused to argue, the tension in my relationship with him vanished.
Minds are not changed by disrespect…only thing that happens is walls get built…
That little children’s rhyme about “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me”..well, that little jingle is a lie.
Hurtful words can stay with you for a life time. To this day, I can remember the time someone called me ugly on the school bus. I was probably 13 or 14 at the time, and very insecure. His words confirmed something I secretly wondered about.
At the same time, I genuinely enjoy the exchanging of ideas with someone who doesn’t see a situation the same way I do, as long as it is in the context of mutual respect…
Second story. Two years into our marriage we attended a weekend marriage workshop. One of the topics that weekend happened to be on how to have a good fight.
You heard that right…”How to Have a good fight.”
I learned there is absolutely nothing wrong with healthy conflict. Stay in any relationship long enough and there will be conflict. It is a given.
(I still practice these tips 35 years after the fact, and not just at home but on the job, and in all my relationships.)
-No garbage dumping. (bringing up multiple grievances in the same conflict) Stick to one or two issues…max.
-No hitting below the belt. (Name calling, threatening, etc)
=Don’t talk about money at night when you are tired… schedule the conversation when you are both fresh. We do this all the time. Amazing how your perspective changes when you are rested.
-Don’t say things like “You always” or “You never”…. that is provoking.
-Don’t get all historical …ie bringing up things that happened months and years ago.
-Practice active listening…repeat back to the other person what you heard them say. Validation goes a long ways in coming to some kind of understanding.
-Be the first to initiate reconciliation. Learn how to say things like “I’m sorry.” and “Will you forgive me?”
-Unresolved conflict and anger is like a festering cancer in my soul.