Is It M or W?

I believe that the greatest cause of conflict in any relationship is this; difference in perspective. One person sees the situation this way, the other sees it that way. Without mention, this will always lead to misunderstandings. Well, Reina and I have not been spared from such.

I passionately write about Reina on this blog, because I am madly in love with her. But that should never be confused for a perfect relationship between us. We are far from perfect, we fight at times, hurl out harsh words we shouldn’t at each other (mostly me) and punish each other with  silence and distant-treatment at times (mostly her). And to blog about everything we go through in our relationship would be stupid of me, because this is not a Jerry Springer episode. For the much younger folks who don’t know who that is, let me say that this is not Maina & King’ang’is show.

That said, I’d still want to keep it authentic and share the reality of how dating has been for us and hopefully shed light for a few of my readers. On today’s particular post, I talk about resolving conflict in your relationship. Do I speak as an expert? Not at all, but I speak as a knowledgeable person; the horse’s mouth.

Most relationships have what I call, a hot topic. A hot topic is basically that argument or situation that both parties never seem to find a solution for. They may have gone at it for days, weeks, months even and it only proved that they never quite get to be on the same page. So, they result to not talking about it, just so they don’t disturb the peace in their relationship. And when it comes up, they tip toe around the topic trying to solve it through avoiding it. Which never works anyway.

Reina and I have a hot topic. And lately it’s been sprouting up, wrecking the norm and bringing with it a lot of conflict. After several attempts at solving it by ourselves without finding a solution, I recommended talking to one of our couple friends; The Kaguoras.

Every couple needs a support system in their relationship. Someone they can lean on when times are hard. Someone to do life with. Someone who understands that life is never perfect and when the storm lasts longer than it should, they will sit down and listen, then help you navigate out of the storm. Sam and Vee are that couple for us.

After dinner we sat, ready to talk. (It’s always hard kicking off such a delicate conversation). I shared my end of the story. Expressing my dissatisfaction and my take on the situation at hand. Reina then shared her side of the story. All this time Vee and Sam were patiently listening. Examining the whole issue they were hearing about for the first time, in silence.

Listening, is a hard trait to master. One that’s largely taken for granted. I’ve been accused of not listening and true to it, I have to hold myself from jumping in to say something when Reina is talking. Especially when I feel that the ‘accusation’ is wrong.

After we were done talking, Vee was first to respond. She shared her take on the whole issue. Helping us see why both of us were stuck on our guns and how it was both justifiable and nullified and we needed to try see it from each other’s perspective if we were to find a solution to the problem. It made a lot of sense.

Then, when it came to Sam’s time to talk, he did something quite interesting. He took a piece of paper and wrote the letter M. He placed the paper between Reina and I, we were seated adjacent to each other and asked, “What do you see?”

To which Reina gabbled, “He sees an M, I see a W.”

“Precisely.” Sammy said. “And that’s how this situation looks like. Both of you are disagreeing over certain things and the problem is that you are attacking the person, instead of the problem.”

(Wise man, I must add).

He gave us a short story about a father who’d taken his son out for a baseball game. While playing he noticed that the son was not performing to his optimum because of his bat. It was dodo. So the Dad went over to another father whose son played for the same team and asked to borrow the son’s bat for his own. Shockingly, the other Dad refused. He was startled, unable to understand why on earth he couldn’t lend the bat, yet they were on the same team.

Basically, that’s what conflict does to us. It makes us fail to see ourselves as a team and view each other as ‘enemies’ when in actual sense, if we tackled the problem, not the person, we’d all win. Fix the bat, not the person.

Sam then asked us to move away from thinking that Reina is not doing so and so or Muindi is failing at this and that. Rather, he asked us to list the problems we think are contributing to the conflict. He took five pieces of paper and listed the problems, as both Reina and I mentioned them. It worked like magic.

Now we could both identify what the problem was and the next step was trying to fix it. We tackled each piece of paper (problem), aiming to find a solution. The talks really bore fruit. The weight of disappointment and unrealistic expectations was being lifted off our shoulders slowly. It became clear why both of us were dissatisfied and reaching the solution to the problem became more realistic.

Reina says that I tend to listen more to men. Well, frankly, I think it’s because when a man speaks he can relate to where I’m coming from and I can relate as well. It becomes easier to solve any situation in your relationship when both of you feel understood.

And the best way to understand each other is to see the situation from the others perspective. Aiming to fix the problem, not attacking the person.

I love Reina. Fighting for her is my daily duty. And I know she loves me as much. It’s that love that makes us never give up on each other. Because love never gives up.

There is this one time a 52 year old man told us, that, in his years of marriage, he’s realized that; ‘it’s better to be reconciled than to be right.’ A lot of the times you don’t have to prove that you’re right or put up a great argument to win. You have to understand that relationships are built in a way that one can never win when the other loses. When one wins and the other loses, you both loose.

It has to be either a win-win situation or a loose-loose scenario. That’s the only way you grow your relationship.

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