All close relationships experience points of tension over time. Any time you put two people together that have different personalities, interests, gifts, backgrounds or experiences, you have a recipe for conflict. Because of that, every family unit experiences conflict at some point. Often it is the same issues that consistently create conflict. Husbands and wives experience it. Parents and children deal with it. We sometimes have conflict with siblings, in-laws, and other members of our family. Conflict is often viewed as bad but usually it is because of the way we handle it, not because of the subject matter. If we understand some of the benefits of conflict, we can improve our approach and our view of it. I have noticed three benefits to conflict.
It Identifies The Most Important Issues
Conflict often brings to the forefront the issues and thoughts that are most important to other people. In the context of marriage, conflict allows us to understand what is most on the mind of our spouse. Andy Stanley says there are two types of tension: tensions to solve and tensions to manage. Some issues are meant to be solved. If tension arises that should be solved, then our responsibility is to deal with it. Other tensions are meant to be managed. For example, there is often the tension in the home of work/home life balance. This is probably not an issue that can be solved, but it does need to be managed. When it consistently comes up, it may mean that we are not managing that tension properly. When conflict arises, take a moment to understand that this issue is important to the other person.
It Brings Clarity
Some of my most clarifying moments have come during or after conflict. The conflict brought to the surface thoughts, ideas, problems and issues that I could not see or had not seen previously. The conflict allowed me to get clarity in the situation that I would not have been able to get otherwise. Conflict will often force you to set aside all of the things that are unnecessary to the decision or situation which allows you to see more clearly the direction that needs to be taken. Allow conflict to clarify your current situation.
Sometimes I hear people say that they said things in anger that they did not mean. The reality though is that it cannot come out of us unless it is already inside of us. Conflict will often reveal flaws or shortcomings in our own lives with which we need to solve or settle. I have often walked away from conflict realizing there were things in me that needed more attention than the issue that was causing conflict. When I use conflict as an opportunity to learn and I reflect on my own approach to conflict, it teaches me important lessons that I need to know that extend well beyond the issue. Never miss an opportunity to be taught when there is conflict.
Conflict is going to be present. It is actually necessary. Don’t always view conflict as bad or destructive. It does not have to be. There are benefits to conflict. Maybe you have some other benefits you can offer in the comments below.