Are we a team, or are we opponents?

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Every difficulty we face within a relationship provides an opportunity to strengthen it. Difficulties serve as a reminder that they can be overcome – that when we combine two hearts, and two minds, we simply need to compromise. We must, however, talk first, and act second.

Imagine a battlefield trench. Imagine within it two soldiers wearing the same uniform. They charge, aim, and shoot. But rather than shooting at an enemy, they shoot at each other. And this is no accident – they charge again, aim again, and shoot again. They want to hurt each other.

What would you call them? Fools? Mavericks? Mad men, perhaps? Does it seem odd that they want to hurt each other, even though they’re on the same side? Nonetheless, this is precisely what happens in our day-to-day relationships.

Rather than fighting together, we fight each other. We fight until we draw blood. Either I win, or you do.

Arguments – what are they good for?

Arguments are human. We know them well, even when we’re on our own. Internally, we pick fault with ourselves. We regret what we’ve done, and also what we’ve failed to do. We curse ourselves. It’s not because we don’t love ourselves, or wish ill upon ourselves. On the contrary, it’s because we love ourselves and want the best possible life. This is why we berate ourselves in our heads, or in the mirror – to motivate ourselves, to box our ears, and to move forwards.

Think of a sports team. The coach pushes you, over and over. They’re not trying to crush you. On the contrary, they want to get you onto your feet. They want to get more out of you – through their feedback, we understand what’s holding us back, and what we need to change. That’s why they criticize us.

1. I want to help you

Life’s like a walk through a deep, dark, forest. We’re lost amongst tall trees of every-day micro-problems, and we need someone with a bird’s-eye-view of the path we’re taking. We don’t need them to climb down and take us by the hand – we can escape the forest ourselves. However, the view from above is much better. Through different eyes, and a different point of view, they have a clearer idea of where we’re heading. Perhaps, even, without us realizing it.

2. I don’t want to lose you

This is the second reason. We may be two different people, but we want to share our journey. Somewhere along the line, we’ve been brought together. At one point, common ground has united us. However, we also need to hold onto each other in the future. It’s only a matter of time before our different values and dreams will surface, and before we start growing apart. It’s only a matter of time before one of us wants to stay where we met, but the other is tired of the common ground. As such, we need to communicate with one another.

3. I want to understand you

In the English language, we use the word argue in place of quarrel. The word argument comes from it. We have different feelings, up-bringing, values, and experience. Nevertheless, we want to be together. We need to “argue”. We need to compare our arguments, what’s acceptable to us, and what’s hurting us. We argue, not so we hurt each other, but, in fact, to avoid needless hurt. We do our best to clarify everything.

4. I want you to be happy

People who love each another don’t hurt deliberately hurt each other. They care for each other, because if their partner’s happy, they’re happy twice over – for their partner, and because they’re proud to be the reason why.

We should care what bothers our partners, and what hurts them. We should explain our point of view, because they aren’t mind-readers. They don’t know if we’ve stopped loving them, if we text someone else on the side. They don’t know if we’re bored of them, if we don’t make time for them, speak to them, or sleep with them. They don’t know what’s going on in our head, let alone in our heart. And we might not realize that we’re hurting them.

Why arguments shouldn’t be avoided

Even if we’re single, we talk to ourselves. We keep reminding ourselves of what’s important to us. We calm ourselves down, and we stir ourselves up. As soon as we fail to do this, and to solve our issues, they grow within us, along with tension, anxiety, and thoughts that we’re not good enough.

And that’s exactly what’s happening to our partner when we stop communicating in our relationship. Vacuums don’t happen. When there isn’t enough information in our heads, we fill the empty space with presumptions.

In my recent live FB broadcast, I criticized partners who work against each other, rather than together, and then wonder why they’re unhappy in their relationships. How could they be happy? What positive energy could a relationship possibly generate when its two soldiers aim their muskets at each other? How could there be any other outcome but despair, fear of the future, and separation?

So then, how can we solve our problems by arguing WITH each other, rather than AGAINST each other?

In what circumstances can arguments strengthen a relationship?

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