Every relationship goes through conflicts. They are unpleasant, but inescapable. Overcoming conflict is necessary to deepen and strengthen a relationship. You can trust that a relationship will last only if it has overcome several conflicts. The problem is that because conflicts are unpleasant and often frightening, we try to avoid them. If we know how to accept them and elevate our connection to a higher level by overcoming them, we will not fear them and will be able to resolve almost any conflict.
Conflicts stem from conflicting interests. This is obvious. When I want one thing and my partner wants something else, I get angry. This is true in any relationship—with people, with pets, and even with machines (think of the curses you throw at your car if it doesn’t start on a cold morning).
When it comes to partners, the solution is simple, yet very hard to do: Kiss each other on the lips. Exactly at the moment of anger, do the opposite.
On a deeper level, we need to understand that every person has different desires, different thoughts, and a different approach to life. A relationship is the merging of two or more different people into one whole. In a good relationship, the differences between them help each partner develop qualities and perspectives that they would not develop were it not for the relationship. In a negative relationship, power struggles stifle the growth of the partners, the oppressed and oppressor become stagnant and entrenched in their views, and the love between them dissolves.
A good relationship requires work. The negative relationship is the natural one. To build a positive one, I must accept that the other perspective has merit, too, even though it isn’t my perspective. If I accept it, which requires some experience in “fighting,” I will find that the other perspective provides me with ideas and perspectives that I could not develop on my own.
It follows that kissing your partner precisely when you’re angry does not mean that you are no longer angry, but that you appreciate and care for your partner even though you are angry, and that your anger does not drive away your love. It is an affirmation of the strength of your connection.
King Solomon, who was said to be the wisest of men, said of this approach, “Hate stirs strife, and love will cover all crimes” (Prov. 10:12). In other words, keep the hate, but cover it with love; make love more important than your temporary anger.
The benefits you will reap are enormous. When we handle conflicts in this way, we not only change ourselves, we change our partner, too. Without saying a word, without preaching or admonishing, but simply by our own example, we pave the way to a healthy relationship.