Monday, November 25, 2013

Conflict and Triangles

My Singapore friends illustrate a Triangle with two very close and one left out.

It seems that whenever there is a cycle of conflict between two people there are always other issues that keep the cycle of conflict going. For example, Gabe and Jude have an ongoing battle about him working too much and neglecting her and the kids. She nags him to stay home and help with the kids  more and he increasingly stays away.

Could there be invisible people or issues in the minds of each of them that keep the cycle of conflict going? Maybe. Perhaps her dad was absent from home and left her mom to fend for herself while rearing three kids. When Gabe is gone she has a mental picture of her mother all alone weeping and wondering why her dad is gone. Jude swore that she would not allow her man to do that.

Gabe is not pure either. When Jude nags he sees his poor, impotent father giving in to his abrasive, aggressive wive and Gabe's mom. He hated to see his dad acting so weak and swore he would never allow a woman to push him around.

These "hidden" factors are not so hidden. They are involved in the emotions of every discussion and every fight. In fact, Jude and her mom have discussed the situation many times and agree that Gabe is away too much. Jude is fighting not only for herself but for her mom. Gabe is not fighting just for himself but for the perceived "honor" of all men.

Unfortunately, most of us are not aware of these triangles and have no understanding of how they are negatively impacting their marriages. So, self awareness can be helpful to resolving a chronic cycle of futile conflict. If you find yourself in such a cycle, ask, "Who else is in this conflict?"

You might be ready to read my book, How to be Me in My Family Tree.

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