“We never fight,” she says with a prideful gloat in her voice. She glances at her husband as if I should be giving them a gold star in marital accomplishment.

Conversely, my insides scream, “Oh boy. I’ve got my work cut-out for me here.”

Avoiding conflict is not the path nor the goal for a satisfying, secure partnership.

Rather, conflict is a natural and normal part of any deep relational life. We are two separate individuals. Our wants, needs, unhealed parts and deepest longings are going to collide. It’s inevitable.

So, fighting is not only necessary but important. Avoidance and denial are the true enemies here. The precursors to a dead marriage. Conflict keeps passion alive and enables growth toward deeper attachment.

However, we need to fight without being damaging.

When I work with couples, I tell them that the goal of conflict is four-fold:

1. Not as often;
2. Not as deep (we don’t want to degrade our partner’s character nor demean their person – all of which will erode the connection over time);
3. Not as long (two hours rather than two days or two weeks);
4. Stay as close to real time in the here-and-now as possible (rather than dragging in issues from the past or unresolved pain pockets from childhood).

Learning to have conflict with these goals in mind is a practiced skill. There is no shame in signing up to learn because we all need remedial work. It just takes a little humility and willingness to be a student of life.

That is when you get the gold star – at least in my book.

For the rise of your life …