I’m a person who goes straight to the heart of things. I don’t think of myself as confrontational, but I know that my desire to get to the heart of an issue can cause other people some discomfort. One of those people is my husband, and for years I’ve had the unlikely job of encouraging him to challenge me! So today’s post is all about RVing and conflict-avoidance.
I recently videoed a conversation with Camille Attell and Bryce Cripe from Morethanawheelin.com. Camille is one of my favorite RVers. She is generous of spirit, and you immediately feel like her friend. I had the great pleasure of a conversation with her and Bryce recently. I don’t know Bryce well, but I could immediately see that he was a very thoughtful person. In the interview, he brought up a quote he heard recently.
“You’re not on an adventure until you’ve had a problem you have to navigate.”
The adventure of relationship certainly qualifies!
I’m so grateful to Camille and Bryce for bringing up the subject of conflict-avoidance in their video. And, I love that Camille thought of a strategy that would help them through a difficult time – and Bryce called the letter she wrote him “genius!” Connection comes in many forms, and we need it to keep love alive.
Whatever it takes to bring hearts closer to each other brings all kinds of rewards. Especially to RVers. Our relationship situations are unique. We are together pretty much all the time! Conflict is going to arise, and we’re either going to be closer because of it, or our travels are not going to be much fun.
I’m going to take this opportunity to get a little personal. As I said earlier, conflict-avoidance has been an issue in my own relationship journey. Here are some strategies Stephen has used to avoid conflict with me over our 40 years of shared life.
#1. He’s a people pleaser. When you’ve grown up in a conflict-ridden home, this is a very good strategy for survival. You learn that displeasing or disappointing people can be frightening and even dangerous!
#2. He learned some ways to use charm and avoid conflict. Making a joke out of something can quickly diffuse a situation. Sadly though, whatever needs addressing isn’t shared. This has been the hardest habit for him to break – especially since sometimes it acts as a pattern interrupt so we can calm down and then have the necessary conversation that will clear the air. So it has a little bit of a good side I guess.
Sharing our point of view of the world is what is known as “adulting.” Relationships can’t flourish without communication. Period. Unless we express our difficult feelings, they tend to contaminate and ultimately destroy love.
Here’s a list of some common conflict-avoidance patterns. Learn more at marriage.com.
Getting angry and escalating emotions
Joking and diversion
Working too much
Do you avoid conflict because you want to keep the peace? Conflict-avoiders emphasize areas of common ground and often avoid expressing what they truly want and need from their ‘other.’ At the same time, they’re congratulating themselves that their relationship is happy. This is a recipe for middling closeness. But there is so much more possible.
I came from a home where there was no happiness between Mom and Dad. I watched a tragic yet quiet drama unfold every day. Formed by this experience, I’ve made having the best intimate relationship with my partner my life goal.
I knew that if I succeeded in this goal, I could call my time on earth successful.
So how have I managed this with a conflict-avoiding partner while RVing? I’ve taught myself to stay tuned in. I notice body language, and I’ve learned (as much as possible – still learning) to not be reactive. I love that I can make Stephen feel safe enough to share how he’s feeling. That’s the key, isn’t it? Safety? He didn’t have it as a kid, but it’s a gift I can give to express my love.
Confrontation does not mean fight. It means facing and expressing what you have to say and truly listening with an open heart to what your partner has to say.
I’m a bull in a china shop kind of person. I’ve learned so much myself by being gentle and thoughtful. I’m well aware that if I don’t modulate some of my responses, Stephen will frequently curl back in his shell. So I’m motivated by the closeness that is possible – it’s like my drug of choice.
My greatest wish is for everyone (especially those who are rving) to experience how transformative intimate love can be in their life. It’s also the reason I started writing this blog in the first place!