Fight or Flight
The conception of two people living together for twenty-five years without having a cross word suggests a lack of spirit only to be admired in sheep.
(Alan Patrick Herbert)
Whenever a couple comes into my office and exclaims they haven’t had a fight in three years, I always respond the same way: Oh my gosh, what’s wrong?!?! And then I listen for whose internal time-bomb of resentment is ticking the loudest.
That’s what inevitably builds up whenever we bite our tongues in order to keep the peace: resentment. If you think about it, it’s a powerfully descriptive word. Instead of calmly addressing our complaint to our spouse, we stew on it, re-sending it through our brains. Or we complain about it to our friends or, God forbid, our families, and we re-send it through our brains again. And through the brains of others.
It doesn’t take long for all this re-sending to build into a resentment. And then it’s only a matter of time when all that conflict avoidance builds into an overall spouse avoidance.
Great spouses are not afraid of conflict, because they are terrified of resentment.