Exposing conflicts in the supportive environment provided as part of the Collaborative Marriage Planning process is a good thing. Conflicts exist in every relationship. Understanding the sources of conflict and their value to a marriage/partnership is key to structuring a relationship that is durable, successful and satisfying. Hiding, or denying the presence of conflict before the marriage can result in either an early damaging shock to the relationship when the conflicts are exposed, or require that one or both partners continue to conceal the truth and their real feelings from the other, which is ultimately damaging to the relationship.
Conflicts are the product of disagreements. Disagreements are a product of competition, that is, each of the partners asserting/believing that their way is the ‘right’ way, or the ‘better’ way, or the ‘necessary’ way, or the priority of the moment. In the competitive mode what we are really saying is, “I want it done ‘my’ way”. Couples have choices. They can establish patterns of dominance – and its other side, either resignation or resentment – “you take care of the car your way and I’ll take care of the laundry my way”, or they can fight it out each time the subject arises, until one of the partners storms out, or gives out from fatigue. This competition for power within the relationship can lead to one member feeling powerful and the other feeling resentful, abused and powerless. At that point, there is no longer a partnership but a servant-master relationship. It seems safe to say most people don’t like being in the servant position on a full-time basis. The Collaborative Marriage Planning process provides couples with the opportunity to talk out how their relationship will use the strengths of each partner to enhance the partnership as a whole and each other individually.
Having a Plan for the marriage that incorporates both individual and shared goals gives the couple an external, future focus for their individual and joint energies and effort. Internal conflict becomes the source of strength in that it makes multiple strategies possible, increasing the chances of success in moving forward toward goals.
Okay, but I don’t have any idea about what the future holds, or where we are going to wind up.
That’s a key reason for engaging in Collaborative Marriage Planning. The Collaborative Team is there to guide the two of you in having a conversation that begins with who you are, what you want and need out of life, and your relationship, and then facilitates your building and expanding from there. The team can breakdown the process into easy to follow steps.