Blind Spots & Conflict

Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash

Why do we call them blind spots?

It’s something we’re blind to. We can’t see it. We can’t see it because we don’t want to.

Why are blind spots painful?

  • Because our “blind spots” are masking painful areas of ourselves. (often family of origin areas, at times containing trauma and or abuse.)
  • We mask the pain with behavior that will make us feel better about who we are. We hide behind this.
  • These could be bullying, (so I never have to be accountable to you, so I intimidate and back you off.)
  • It could be my performance to gain your approval, fearing abandonment if I don’t. I don’t show you my weakness, fearing your judgment, instead of opening my heart for your love. Security heals this.
  • These “behaviors,” known as behavioral narcotics, relieve the suffering we avoid by not facing the truth about ourselves. Self-deception sustains us in a false bliss we call denial.
  • We can get away with believing, (It’s their problem if they would just change into who I need them to be, then the problem would go away.)
  • It’s much easier to live in denial and sustain a false self than to forsake a broken part of ourselves.
  • We hurt when our blind spots are touched because now that I’m aware of it, I’m challenged to own it. (take responsibility and do something about it.) I must make choices to grow to follow through with this. I must forsake denial, face my inadequate, painful, self and follow through. It means hanging out with and facing who I truly am, rather than a fake self.

Marriage so helps with this.

You can’t deny or get away with who he or she exposes, sees, and reflects. This is intimacy as much, or more than sex is.

Blind spots, in essence, are broken places in our character that get exposed in the context of marriage, and other relationships. This exposure comes in the form of conflict, something we would rather avoid, if possible. I want to examine some reasons for this avoidance.

Why Conflicts Don’t Resolve

I like to view conflict as the road to the castle, where they lived happily ever after.

Simply stated, if you don’t go down the road, you won’t get there.

Obstacles on the road keep us from going down it, like downed trees or power lines needing removing so we can proceed. These can be myths or false beliefs.

  • “We never fight.” (We believe we have a good marriage because we’ve learned to avoid conflict.)

It’s hard for a conflict to resolve if you determine never to have one.

This marriage may never “rock the boat,” but the boat never goes anywhere. It becomes the “Black Pearl,”  looking pretty dead, with prisoners, sporting lots of slime and barnacles.

If the boat never feels like it’s sinking, the marriage isn’t growing.

Reconstruction and dismantling often feels like,

“We’re going down.”

In a sense the “old us” is going down, so we can rise in “newness of life” with new, more honest relating patterns emerging.

The “we never fight marriage” safely stays out of troublesome areas, to keep the peace. Without the troublesome soil being turned over, (Conflict), the “ground” of the relationship turns “fallow.” This means nothing is growing in it, other than an uneasy peace sustained by a life-sucking truce that avoids “taboo” areas.

This relationship can’t experience intimacy or emotional honesty because the partners,

  • “Can’t handle the truth,” and are unwilling to engage in the blind spots and painful buttons that are carefully avoided. They sell out to each other, by fake relating that removes the threat of honest relating.

A happy marriage can’t exist without the lack of penetration of soul that honesty and conflict resolution demands. You can’t find a painless way in, it doesn’t exist. Your avoidance will bar the way.

I’ve often used a simple analogy about what forms the DNA of a relationship. A+B=C

A and B are the man and the woman. C is the marriage. C will never go any further than A and B are willing to go together in the process. I’ve stated before, you don’t have a bad marriage, you have bad dynamics between A and B.

  • Change these dynamics and the marriage will change. Solve the variable, the equation resolves.
  • It is cause and effect more than most know.
  • This is why marriages fail, Christian or not.
  • Change what you’re doing to each other!
  • Engage in the conflict.
  • Forsake denial, stop self-protecting
  • Risk truth-telling.
  • Develop the discipline to face the problems and solve them.
  • Problems don’t go away, they need engagement, strategy, and resolution.

If you don’t explore what’s going on in the heart of A and B, addressing blind spots, or destructive, self-protecting patterns, nothing will change. It can’t. It’s cause and effect that needs transformation.

People must change their selfish orbits and learn to love and relate honestly to be happy. It’s the only way to get what you both need. Connection, agreement, security, fulfillment.

Yes, I believe happiness and joy are by-products of healthy relating and are an inheritance to be expected. It’s the fruit of obedience to God. (This is my commandment that you love one another that your joy may be full.) In one sense, I don’t agree with the statement that “there are no guarantees in marriage.” It depends on us.

I know what it is to fail the first time. I also know the grace, success, and blessing of marriage to Linda. 34 years. I write out of the experience and lessons learned during this time and the wilderness years before that.

Compatibility is overrated for success in marriage. I know of the most declared “incompatible” couples who have wonderful enriched marriages and go on to help and enrich others, mine included. We all feel incompatible when the fairy dust wears off after the honeymoon, and we see what we’re up against.

Nothing is impossible with God, but He requires our commitment, engagement, and participation. It’s such a relief to just jump in and get real and heal and start experiencing the promised land.

Needs & Expectations

I Do

When we marry, we drag a lot of needs and expectations into the relationship. There’s no way around it, it’s human nature. This doesn’t make us “bad,” it makes us “needy,” and “expecting” a lot. Alas, it’s the law of relationship, one of many. The more we learn about these “laws,” the better our relationships become, as we get in touch with how much we need, and how we are projecting those needs onto our partner, “expecting” them to meet them. We will punish them for not “meeting up,” whether consciously or subconsciously.

Conflict

Our fairy tale beliefs and thinking convince us that a “happy marriage” will be conflict-free. This is a deception because conflict exposes our needs and expectations if we will be honest with ourselves and own up to them. Conflict pushes us into this process if we will open our eyes to it and become self-aware. This is the way.

Talk or Punish

Denial creates our self-made prison of misery. When I’m in denial, I’m unaware of what I am doing and focusing on what my partner should be doing. I may naively think,

She should know what I need, why is she withholding?

Without telling them our needs, we will project them onto our intimate other. When I try to get something from Linda without words, I can push her away creating distance, believing she is the problem. In truth, I have the problem, (my unmet need.) There is no bridge to cross to figure out what is going on. Words, questions, and answers provide one. Both partners need to use the bridge. This is how you resolve the issue at hand.

Neediness without communication punishes. It’s unfair to punish her for what I can’t communicate. I get free when I can see what I’m doing and stop. How can she meet my needs if I myself cannot articulate them? Self-discovery makes this possible.

Communicating and negotiating is the pathway to truthful emotional relating. Intimacy cannot exist without risk and trust. Without this, you will remain on a game-playing level of relating. We need to leave the dating- game and learn to love, going deeper than just getting what I need, apart from caring about the feelings, needs, and desires of another. This is selfish loving at best. We have a much greater potential than this.

I Need, I Need

This is a line from “What About Bob.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s a hilarious movie illustrating a boundary-less relationship between a counselor, Richard Dreyfus, and his “patient,” Bill Murray. Bill’s neediness defines the relationship, and Richard’s lack of boundaries enables an awful tailspin resulting in unbelievable chaos. This is something neediness and enabling will create. Chaos, not intimacy.

We all need. Some more than others. Like me. I tell in my upcoming book, Hope for Happily Ever After, of when Linda and I were returning home after our honeymoon. We’d been driving for hours and I had been jabbering nonstop for miles and miles. She finally said to me,

Do you always talk this much?

I was horrified as my life-sucking need to be heard and affirmed was exposed, along with other relational patterns, (retreat, pout, sulk, avenge, etc.) You have to get the book for the rest of the story. 🙂

The point is, I didn’t know how needy I was until I married her and tried to get her to meet all of the needs. Immediately. This is what causes the conflict. We start projecting needs without knowing they are there. We all have self-focused, needy operating systems, and conflict in marriage is simply these two selfish systems colliding and working themselves out as we learn to grow out of our narcissism and into selfless lovers.

Happily Ever After is in the compiling, editing process. Thanks for being patient as we don’t want to rush. A good meal has to cook. My love and prayers to all who read these words.

Dan XO