Healthy Conflict for Couples (and Teams)

Daphne De Marneffe reports that one third of all couples pledge to marry between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.  Her empirical observations reveal that couples see early marriage as a bucket list item or “capstone” more than an expression of love and commitment through good and hard times.  Therefore, the last things that get discussed are potential challenges and differences.


Throughout marriage, these are the topics that need attention from both individuals:

  • Three quarters of couples report paying more than they intended for the wedding and regret it the very next day. Later in a marriage, money continues to create challenges since each party wants to spend it their way and they may resent the need to discuss and compromise.
  • Couples need to create a “we story” to discuss collective joint experience and decisions rather than individual motivations.
  • De Marneffe emphasizes the need to be empathic to one’s partner and utilize high levels of reading oneself. I find this analogous to applying emotional intelligence skills at one’s workplace – where humility and listening play a huge role in success with team members and customers.
  • Difficult conversations such as negotiating anger and disappointment clearly, yet gently, are important elements of a successful romance.
  • Being able to apologize is key, again no different at the workplace with one’s team, customers, or supervisor.
  • Love reflects respectful communication. At the work place we use the expression, “effective”

Georgia O’Keefe said, “Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” Friendship, respect, and intimacy are vital. Remember to fight fairly while you humbly listen. Stay engaged while you allow your disappointments. New closeness emerges from “taking the time” as O’Keefe recommends.

Enjoy your next date with your mate, whether newly hitched or twenty-five years into it. If you are single and dating, apply these concepts to getting to know someone.  Let them know you see them.



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Congrats! Now Learn to Fight

By Daphne De Marneffe, New York Times, January 14, 2018

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