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The Greatest Predictor of Relationship Happiness — It’s Not the Absence of Conflict

By February 3, 2020 No Comments

I think our relationships are only as happy — and as healthy — as we are.

If we want to predict relationship happiness, we don’t need to look for relationships absent of conflict.

I can guarantee that any relationship with no conflict whatsoever is either dealing with denial, avoidance, or both. It’s not that conflict doesn’t exist; it’s just not being acknowledged or addressed. Just because the relationship is absent of arguing doesn’t mean it’s healthy or fulfilling.

By exploring and healing our own pain, we can be stronger partners in relationships.

At the same time, the health of a relationship isn’t predicated on the willingness of one person to work on it.

One person cannot save the relationship, no matter what popular media tries to tell us. It really does take two. Personal growth should be happening with each partner for the strongest possible relationship outcome. Then, with a strong growth game at an individual level, we can then address conflict in our relationships while showing each other respect, courtesy, and empathy. We can have the uncomfortable conversations that come with asking for what we need within relationships and dealing with conflict as it arises.

Conflict will arise — no matter how healthy the relationship we’re in is or how well we’re doing individually.

In the past, I was an expert at avoiding conflict.

I would rarely speak my truth, and when I did, I didn’t speak it effectively. I either lived in denial, settled for never getting my needs met, engaged in unhealthy arguments, or did some combination of all of that. My relationships were far from happy or healthy, and they ended badly.

When the relationships didn’t work out, I had to figure out how to be alone, how to work on my own issues, and how to break the cycle of toxic relationships.

When I entered my current relationship, I was determined to do things differently.

In fact, at the time I ended up in it, I was taking a time-out from dating. I waited for the right person, not just any person. But I knew that I couldn’t go back to my old conflict-avoidant ways. I would do better because I knew that I couldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t.

For the first time in my life, I feel a sense of calm- not comfort- about addressing how I feel.

I seek clarity instead of making assumptions, and I’m more capable of asking for what I need now than at any prior point in my life, though it still feels challenging. I can honor my partner’s needs and still address my own.

I fully believe that relationship happiness is, in part, predicated on our ability to work through conflict.

Of course, many people who’ve been married so long they’ve become smug about it will say that divorce mostly happens because people won’t work through conflict and just give up. I’d like to call bullshit on this particular theory simply because, again, one person cannot save a relationship, and some relationships aren’t healthy enough to be saved in the first place.

That sense of having had the good fortune to choose and be chosen by the ones we love is a powerful part of feeling willing to address discomfort and conflict in relationships. That lucky feeling and feeling of total gratitude for the one we’re with is significant, particularly when it’s shared with our partners.

If we want to predict relationship happiness, that’s the key. We feel blessed that our partners are in our lives, we’re willing to address conflict as it comes up, and we’re taking responsibility for our own happiness. I’m not saying our relationships will last forever, but I’m saying it just might give us the best possible chance.

Source: MindBodyGreen

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