As much as I would like to avoid the discomfort it provides, conflict comes as standard couplehood equipment.

When we go white-water rafting, we risk going over the side into the drink.

If we buy stocks we will probably lose money at some point.

Choosing to be with someone for the duration includes the (extreme) likelihood of disagreement.

What to do? Choose well in the first place. Dating should be about two lists: the stuff we agree on, and the stuff we do not agree on. The latter can probably be further split into two sub-lists, one for disagreements about which I care, and the second for disagreement that mean nothing to me.

Be sure that the last list isn’t likely to change too much over time. Ideas and outlooks have a habit of morphing as we mature, so what didn’t faze you at the beginning might drive you crazy after a while.

And inevitably life will toss conflict at us once we’re married. No matter how intelligent your dating and choice mechanism, you’ll bug me, and I’ll bug you. What’s good about that is the chance we have to sort things out. A challenge met as a couple ups our coupling energy. Sadly, as happens in too many cases, allowing friction to grow will dissipate our strength.

So, do I have a solution? Only that facing the edges life provides is smart and healthy. Honesty begets truth, and truth is a long-lasting adhesive. Creating a space for calm airing of grievances is the best way I can think of. Just as couples should have a regular finance hour (once a week for budget talks and planning) a date night (obviously a good idea) and perhaps even a domestic hour to share some chores, why not a campfire hour?

A campfire hour would be a safe place from which to politely ponder why this and that, did you know you make me feel something else when you do that, and I wish this were otherwise. The key – and this is not easy – is to drain the talk of emotion and recrimination. And always always reach a resolution, if only to state that the conflict has been noted and understood.

Calm. Intelligent. Mature. We can do that, right?

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