Why do we fight? Why do we fight with the person we love?
I had written recently about how we "lose our mind", when we are emotionally upset and stressed. When I say lose our mind within this context, I am talking about how we may say the wrong thing or contribute to a conflict that is going south, and how we lose our ability to solve problems effectively when we are upset. It is most likely that hidden within each intimate conflict is a need that is not being met. There is a need of ours and there is a need of the other. Too frequently the need is not identified and may not even be within our or their awareness. As we find ourselves getting involved in a conflict (sometimes it feels as if we are being drawn into a conflict) with our partner, it would be incredibly valuable to ask this simple question. What is it that he or she needs that is lying under his or her critical, aggressive, or thoughtless behavior. I believe I have much better at not being externally reactive, (some people may disagree) somehow it is a question that I rarely ask myself. I am good at asking myself what material thing my partner might need. I have trained my mind to remind myself to "be skillful", and remind myself not to inflame the situation. I also make considerable efforts at listening actively to reduce conflict. (much of the time) This could be debated also. Listening and even asking ourselves how we can be skillful, are also valuable tools for reducing interpersonal stress. I am coming to believe that asking the questions "What is it that my loved one needs" and "What is it that I need", are even more powerful. Of course this is difficult to do when we feel attacked, hurt, and angry ourselves. So what is really important to us? How much does this relationship and this person really matter to us? What would it be like if they weren't there? We may not even be able to provide what they need, but we won't know if we don't as ourselves the question.