Thursday, February 10, 2011

Conflict Resolution Rules of Engagement (marriage)

Relationships all have defined rules of engagement. There are clear boundaries and expectations in every relationship professional or personal. When such criteria are dismissed or violated it is a game changer and perhaps a deal breaker. Steal at the office and you find yourself vamping up your resume. Mistreat friends and you'll find yourself in a very exclusive club. Abuse your family and shop the real estate market for the neighborhood adult living facility. Leave the Church and poison your being.

The most gratifying and meaningful relationships are intimate and the ability to engage in a healthy  dyad (triad, familial system,...) is not natural and requires a skill set not always obvious. This is painfully obvious between most in-laws. The road map to relationships which enhance the quality of life require rules and strategic plans. Respect, trust, goodwill and honesty are key ingredients to any full long lasting mutually satisfying relationship.  Undermine these principles and the relationship will steadily grow in toxicity.

I personally maintain specific rules of engagement with all my relationships including the most casual encounter. I expect my grocer not to change the 'sell by' date for example. Because people are not generally honest there are regulations which secular institutions enforce. Likewise the more personal the relationship the more vital those principles because regulations are only in place to deal with the most obsene circumstance. The emotional scarring of even the most casual encounter can be debilitating.

Resolving disappointment and unfulfilled expectations can only be accomplished when ideally all parties are acting in good faith. A company which sells an inferior product must be willing to honor warranties and be willing to address liability where applicable. Likewise the public trust cannot be betrayed with poisonous products or unfair legal systems. A friendship which may dissolve obruptly can be done respectfully and honestly. If one party feels rejected and refuses to concede the relationship or the terms of its dissolution it can erode self esteem and quality of life. If said party is unwilling or unable to accept the reality, it can lead to obsessiveness and irrational behavior. In a marriage each spouse must believe regardless of argument particulars that the other in the end is not out to disparage or hurt the other. Children must accept in principle that their parents have their interest in mind even if it fails to appeal to their limited understanding.

Discourse can be robust and full of opposition but it must be fair and respectful of the humanity of the other party, person or persons. This is a Christian ideal because even in disagreement and vehement opposition, the humanity of the other is never demeaned; thereby respecting the image and likeness of God. I respond harshly when the rules of engagement are ignored or dismissed. I have zero tolerance for violence or the perceived aggression toward my family. Intent is difficult to gauge and is irrelavent in public circles for the most part but in the private sector is can be the be all and end all.

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