Are You Having The Same Old Fight Over and Over Again?
Do you find yourself having the same fight with the same person in the same situations? May be it’s your mother, your partner, your brother, or your child. Perhaps you hear complaints from your friends and colleagues about the constant conflict they experience with a particular member of their family.
It sounds tiring and unpleasant, something you would give your right arm to avoid. You promise yourself you will not rise to the bait. You practice counting to ten and vow not to sweat the small stuff. But before you know it, the fight is already in round three. Your heart is racing, a pulse is pounding in your head, and your stomach is churning with indignation as you try to position yourself to win.
It’s usually a simple but loaded remark that ignites the flames. ” I thought we were going to watch a DVD tonight.” Kim challenged her husband as he got ready to go out for a night with the boys.
The Power Struggle Begins
Keith felt the noose tighten around his neck. The threat to his individuality and independence felt very ominous. He couldn’t let her get away with it again. He was a grown man. Why should he let her whims and tantrums take away his manhood? Keith’s hands and legs shook as he choked and sputtered to avoid being strangled. A high pitch desperate sound of outrage came out of his mouth as he struggled to regain power.
“I work hard, bring home the money, clean the house when you are too tired, go shopping with you, entertain your boring family, and you won’t let me have one night with my mates!”
Kim’s heart rate accelerated from a trot to a clamoring gallop as the tag of selfishness and ungratefulness wound themselves around her. She attacked them with blades sharpened with accusations kept for just such a moment.
” You played baseball when I was really sick last year, you never have a good word to say to my mother when she visits, you never take me out with your friends, you told me that you hated me for taking away your freedom. That’s what this is about. You don’t want to be with me!”
Keith and Kim are experts at wounding each other. But why do they keep doing it?
Both Keith and Kim get a buzz from engaging with each other through conflict. No matter how uncomfortable they may feel during their fights, their cravings for the pay offs call the tune. Like any other addiction, it has to be fed and topped up with more conflict for the highs to be maintained.
What Are The Payoffs for Kim?
Kim wants to be the most important thing in Keith’s life. She isn’t sure that she can achieve and maintain that status. A sure fire way of getting the reassurance she needs is to create tension. That guarantees that every bit of him is focused on her. His vision, his thoughts, his gestures, and entire emotional self is filled with Kim. His body literally stops it’s normal functioning and all his energy is directed her way. By picking a fight, she gets to own a hundred percent of him.
The prize comes with two bonuses.
- First she is pumped with power that comes with controlling Keith’s emotions, his body and mind.
- Second she is free from those pesky jealousies and fears that plague her when she isn’t playing her ownership cards. It’s as if they are one person at the times of greatest conflict. What could top that as evidence that you are special?
What Are The Pay offs for Keith?
Keith wants to feel like a man, able to make his own decisions and act on them. He wishes he could castrate that wimpy part of him that is scared to take a stand. Fighting for his rights gets him in touch with his prowess. Asserting himself with Kim builds up his ego and kills off the wimp he hates. Why can’t he just give himself permission to do what he wants? Like Kim he has pesky feelings that torture him with guilt. Worms like selfishness, greed and insensitivity crawl under his skin and paralyze him. Fighting with Kim on the other hand energizes him, builds up his sense of righteousness, and is guilt free. He gets to be the good guy. Why would he want to give such treasures up by stopping the fights?
When Kim and Keith no longer get their highs from fighting they can learn alternative ways of feeling powerful and special. Lets hope that time comes before the relationship collapses under the strain of conflict.