Do Relationships Have to Have Conflict?

Do Relationships Have to Have Conflict?

Many people write about conflict in relationships: how it’s bound to happen, how it’s better than letting things stew, how to fight fairly, how you must counterbalance it with good aspects of the relationship.

But here’s the thing: we don’t experience this at all. Ever. Not in eleven years. And we’re not sitting on a volcano of suppressed complaints. This is absolutely, categorically the case. We’ve spent more than a decade examining this, and our conclusion is that in a committed relationship, as long as core values are aligned, such a state is available to nearly everybody.

So are we just freaks of nature? Or could it be that the conventional wisdom is wrong? Conventional wisdom used to hold that:

  • Smoking was not particularly harmful to health
  • Organisms were spontaneously generated from inanimate matter
  • Stomach ulcers were caused by stress

We’ve let go of these ideas, but a host more remain:

  • We will always have war
  • Free markets generate the best results
  • My religion is the only real one

While you may not agree with all of those, you can see how hard it is to let go of any of these assumptions. To do so would cause a profound shift in reality, like suddenly being relocated to another country, and we resist such changes of viewpoint.

So there may be a hump of cynicism to overcome to accept the possibility of a relationship without conflict. Remember that it requires commitment and agreement on core values. You pretty much have to believe something exists before you can see it. You probably haven’t been looking for unicorns recently because you don’t believe they exist, and similarly, you have to first accept the possibility of peace in your relationship before you can find it. Read about this in our new book “How Two: Have a Successful Relationship,” available May 3, 2016.


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