Conflict in relationships

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young

Conflict cannot survive without your participation. – Wayne Dyer

There is a dynamic that can happen in couples’ relationships that is often unconscious and destructive. I observe it frequently in my practice. It happens when one or both individuals are reacting from a place of unhealed wounds or unfulfilled needs of the inner child.

This triggers an ego reaction wherein one can only focus on his or her own feelings or perspectives. When two young siblings are arguing, it is virtually impossible for them to put themselves in the place of the other and view things from that perspective. Nor do they really care about their sibling’s needs or feelings.

Ideally, as they grow, they learn there are two points of view and the goal is to figure out a solution. Sadly, for many, this shift either does not come or it only manifests in public, while in close personal relations, the inner reactive child is in charge. An individual who always takes things personally, is always mad at someone and is judgmental and critical of others is stuck in a wounded child/victim mentality. This individual sees everyone else as the problem and does not see his or her own role in creating perpetual unhappiness.

An interesting feature in this dynamic with couples is they will vacillate between the wounded angry child and the angry, authoritative, critical adult. One is hurt and then launches an attack on the other telling their partner everything they have done wrong, often demeaning and negating the other. This, of course, creates more woundedness for the already upset inner child.

In observing this process, at times it looks like two children bickering back and forth and then like a critical adult berating a child. What we do not see is two adults working together rationally to solve a problem.

If there is no awareness of what is happening for them, the couple is constantly fighting, the same issues keep coming up and nothing ever gets resolved. Even if one suggests therapy, the response is often, “You go, you are the one with the problem.” If they end the relationship without ever figuring out how and why they reacted as they did, the same dynamic will invariably appear in the next relationship.

What is the solution? First, we need to recognize we draw people into relationships because we have things to learn with them and so things will get triggered in order for us to heal. It is not up to a partner to heal our inner wounds. That is our job. We must become aware of what is being triggered and become the unconditionally loving mother/father to our own inner child.

Second, it is very important to honestly look at our own role in creating and maintaining the conflict. We cannot blame another for our own poor behaviour. We can stay in a place of integrity even if the other does not.

Finally, it is wise to ask ourselves if we are treating our partner the way we want to be treated. Make a list of all the ways you want your partner to treat you. Then review the list and see how well it applies to you. Make a list of all of your partner’s behaviours you do not like and see how many of those apply to you.

If we truly do the growth work in our relationships, not only can we enjoy the journey, but we also evolve in consciousness.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change hypnosis CDs and new Creating Healthy Relationships series, visit See display ad this issue.

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