I’m sure you are all too familiar with the saying it takes 2 to tango.
The tango is a dance which requires two partners moving in relation to each other. The partners sometimes move together and sometimes in opposition, but at any given time they are part of the movement. A tango with only one dancer is no longer a tango.
So, while you are no longer in a romantic relationship with your ex, if you are in a conflict with them, you remain part of the “tango”.
When parents separate, they inevitably remain in a parenting relationship. When this relationship is conflicted, it is worth while to consider what your role in the conflict is. Even if your ex is the unreasonable one, you become part of the conflict, if like the tango, you move with your partner, being together or in opposition.
Conflicts often emerge more when people are stressed and circumstances change.
Staying out of a conflict is much more intricate than ignoring the conflict. Ignoring the conflict could still be seen as taking part in it by being passive aggressive.
Staying out of a conflict requires more understanding on your part about your behaviour rather then your opponent’s behaviour.
So how do you go about understanding your role in your ongoing conflict when you are close to certain, that it’s your “partner” who is at fault.
See how you answer the following questions:
- Do you recognise that you have to be right for the conflict to end?
- Are you highly emotional?
- Do you criticise your ex for what s/he does or how s/he does things?
- Do you blame your ex for your current situation?
- Do you complain a lot?
- Do you nag to get what you want?
- Do you attempt to punish by withholding things that your ex wants?
- Do you threaten with legal action?
- You hang on to telling the same negative story over again?
- Are you seeking people’s approval to your situation?
- Are you feeling guilty about what is happening?
- Are you mostly thinking negatively about your situation?
- Your self esteem is damaged
- Have you lost the ability to foresee a bright future and set new goals?
Being in a conflict is never fun and leaves people feeling miserable and a victim of their circumstances. But being in a conflict motivates people to remain negative as conflicts are about being right and not what is right.
When focusing on a solution and adopting a positive approach to the disagreement at hand, people are able to leave the conflict by not feeding it and while you may not be the one creating the conflict, it is important to acknowledge your role in it, in order be able to remove yourself from it.
So take a step back, breathe deep, listen and use your conflict to increase understanding and creative thinking. The conflict is not the conflict. The conflict is how you deal with the conflict.
Founder SADSA | The South African Divorce Support Association