Teaching Tools

"Conflict is an essential and inevitable part of every intimate relationship."

Conflict

Many of us do our very best to avoid conflict in our families, our friendships, and our romantic relationships. This is a self-defeating goal. Our relationships with others represent the beginnings of diversity in our lives. Of course everyone other than myself has a perspective on life that is understandably different from my own. The problem isn't conflict; the problem we must learn to avoid is abuse. If we can learn to have conflict without abuse then there's really nothing to be feared from listening to another's perspective on any subject.

 


 

"Rules for fair fighting: 1. No abuse, 2. Any one subject, 3. By mutual consent."

Fair Fighting

Choices, choices, choices. If we choose to do so, we can have a home life based on the law of the jungle where it's all about survival of the fittest. Or, we can have rules for fair fighting, like those civilized societies have agreed to such as the Geneva Convention. The absolute minimum includes three rules: making fighting safe by committing to an abuse-free relationship, making it OK to talk about whatever is bothering us, and, finally, by checking with our partner if now is a good time to have a conflict, an argument, a fight—whatever we call it doesn't matter because it's going to be civil and abuse-free no matter how passionately we each feel about the matter.


 

"That which isr epressed will be expressed...inappropriately."

Repressed

When I have an impulse to do something that I know is clearly ​not​ a good idea, it is helpful, in the short run, to be able to repress that impulse and, in the short run, I'm good. But as helpful a tool as repression is in the short run, repression is not sustainable as a lifestyle. So whether we're talking about drugs, gambling, overeating, or illicit affairs, we need to have more tools in the toolbox than repression alone.


 

"Intimacy is the ability to safely share our lives with one another."

Intimacy

Having used the word "intimacy" as a euphemism for "having sex" for so long, many people think that they actually mean one and the same thing. They do not mean the same thing. A lover and a rapist may have sex with the same person but none of us would say the rapist is being "intimate" with the victim. Intimacy is about safety. Intimacy includes the safe sharing of ideas, feelings, histories, and anywhere we desire a feedback loop where we can know each other more deeply and then, more deeply still.