The long and winding road to a common ground

During my years as an adult, swimming in a vast sea of singles in search of a soul mate (as well as those who have found them), I’ve discovered that people seem to be putting more energy into appearances as opposed to substance when it comes to their long-term relationships. People appear to be harboring some misconceptions and unrealistic expectations. It would seem to be the rule rather than the exception to put on a “game face” for the rest of the world to see, only to endure turmoil behind closed doors. As a result, we’re finding ourselves in a sea of incompatibility and conflict….. and it’s simply not necessary.

Backing away from a potentially explosive situation can be of benefit for all concerned. At worst, you would eventually come back to that level of conflict. But at best, both parties will have had time to consider the opposing view

Why was it that in high school, the curriculum consisted of math, science, arts, etc. with absolutely no courses in relationship dynamics? I think that “Home Economics” was about as close as you could get. I distinctly remember that the guys taking that course were there primarily for the “chick pick-up” potential, as well as the free grub. These days, kids can’t even learn these interaction skills at home, and the divorce lawyers are laughing all the way to the bank. That’s if people are even bothering to get married these days.

Okay, okay….. I’ll ditch the cowboy hat and the chaps and get off of my high horse.

It wasn’t until I was well into my mid-twenties that a forward-thinking employer sent me to a conflict management class. Needless to say, at the time I thought that it was all a bunch of hooey. What the hell? I could use a day away from the office. But remarkably enough, that was a remarkable basis for dealing with what would lay ahead of me in life. This, my dear readers, is the art of compromise and diplomacy, without appearing condescending or demeaning.

It’s obvious that when tensions run high in a conversation, so do emotions. Whether you’re arguing a point with your boss or your significant other, you’re bound to render a few battle scars, emotionally speaking. I’ve learned that backing away from a potentially explosive situation can be of benefit for all concerned. At worst, you would eventually come back to that level of conflict. But at best, both parties will have had time to consider the opposing view, and perhaps come back to the table with those considerations — without those preceding, and possibly detrimental, emotions. If either party is repeatedly incapable of the respect that is necessary for this type of exercise, it would stand to reason that the relationship is a good candidate for termination. This sounds awfully clinical, but I’ve found that it seems to work in most cases.

On a more personal note, if a long-term relationship is to survive, establishing these lines of communication early on are essential. If you have a tendency to “stick to your guns” no matter what, and refuse to consider your significant other’s viewpoints, (however inane they might seem to you), you’re setting yourself up for failure. Everyone in a relationship deserves to be heard – it’s a two-way street. If you are capable of extracting emotionalism from a situation and discussing it with your mate in a calm setting with respect and consideration, that’s half the battle. Too often, the conflict gets personal and feelings get hurt unnecessarily.

On paper, this looks like a relatively easy task…. makes all the sense in the world, doesn’t it? Well, speaking from experience, this is not the case. This is what therapists would call “working” on a relationship (or even a marriage). Being able to eloquently express yourself as well as listen effectively are skills that are learned, and subsequently honed and perfected. This may come more naturally to you than to your partner (or vice versa). It is of small doubt that this is where patience and respect will come in handy. The only way that this will eventually come naturally to both of you is if you both exercise this type of communication frequently, or as needed. But it can be done. Pretty soon you won’t even realize that you’re doing it.

You’ll notice that the harmony that you were striving for was right there the whole time, you just had to leave yourself open(minded) long enough for it to become apparent

This method of conflict management has its own side-benefits as well. As time progresses, you’ll see that the good times will far outweigh the bad. Obviously, it would be unrealistic to assume that everything will be “peachy-keen” forever, but when you do come across those inevitable speed bumps in life, you’re more equipped to deal with them as a team, rather than creating yet another wedge between both of you through resentment and conflict.

You’ll notice that the harmony that you were striving for was right there the whole time, you just had to leave yourself open(minded) long enough for it to become apparent. When you notice that your significant other is making a concerted effort in this direction, it wouldn’t hurt to compliment them. You’d be surprised at their inclination to reciprocate as well. You and your partner will be closer as a result. This has physical benefits as well as emotional. Too often, pent up resentment will parlay into the bedroom, and eventually create a snowball effect in terms of the downfall of the relationship. It’s amazing what a tiny shift in one’s attitude can do for the longevity of love, as well as mental and physical intimacy.

We all have the capacity to engage in long-term relationships with the right person. The truth of the matter is that it’s not just all going to fall in your lap. If you and your significant other are to evolve together, there’s a significant amount of effort that needs to be made. The real tragedy lies where there are two obviously compatible individuals that are unable to communicate on a level that is conducive to mutual respect and affection. If a relationship is worth saving, it’s worth “working” for. The rewards that result could be infinite.

Andrea See all posts by Andrea
is a BADASSCHICK Magazine™ contributor
  • Top articles

  • Our articles and columns

  • Are you a bad ass chick?

    Send us your photos and see if you have what it takes to be a Badasschick™ cover girl.
  •