Healthy Relationships: Avoiding vs. Clarifying Conversation (Part 1 of 4)

Greetings and welcome to my August blog. The year is 2015 and I am inviting you this year to answer this question: How do you define and participate in building a healthy relationship? Do you know what a healthy relationship looks like and do you choose people that also want and desire healthy relationships? What do you want?

Each month here in 2015 I have been attempting to define and describe what healthy relationship are by looking at the intention or purpose of the person when they approach you and attempt to resolve conflict. So for this month of August, I want you to think and discern for yourself this question: Do you want to avoid conversation or do you want to pursue clarifying conversations? When you think of your most personal relationships such as your marriage, your best friends, your family and kids, do you want to pursue them by asking and seeking ways to clarify what they said or did or do you want just to avoid it all together?

Unhealthy relationship avoid talking or having conflicting conversations. Healthy relationships pursue and practice having those conversations that lead to clarifying so that you understand where that person is coming from or why or what they did. But avoiding clarifying only leads to the person not wanting to talk or address a problem in the relationship and find that if they can avoid it, the problem will go away or disappear. But far too often, this avoiding strategy does not work.

In general, can you define or recognize the strategy of avoidance? I believe the first thing we all need to agree upon is that we all avoid. In some ways, avoiding can be good and helpful for our lives. I live in Los Angeles and there are neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area that I do try to avoid at all costs. If I feel threatened by people, or dogs or spooky places or fearful places, I will in general avoid this. I also do my best to avoid going to see horror or scary movies and in last few years have avoided watching the news. Many times the news is so negative that I do tend to avoid listening or watching news about killings, murder and various trauma that happens to people in our society.

Now I do view this as healthy or good avoidance as I don’t want my eyes, ears, or experience to be exposed to bad places or neighborhoods. Life is too short and for me not filling up my mind and hours in a day being exposed to places, people or things, is good for me. I cannot totally avoid the reality of life but I tend to do my best to limit how much exposure I have to unhealthy areas I want to avoid.

So when it comes to your personal life, such as your marriage, your best friend, your siblings, family or close co-workers, strategically avoiding them because you are mad at them, have been hurt by them, they have disappointed you or you have felt rejected or abandoned by them is not good. To avoid is to think that if you can avoid them, then eventually the hurt or memories or feelings will go away. To avoid is to wish and fantasize that maybe the problem or issue or conflict will go away, get swept underneath the carpet or you tend to minimize it and try not to make it out as a big deal. You tell yourself, don’t make a mountain out of a molehill, make peace and not conflict, and what good would it do anyway to say anything to this person and talk about this problem.

The challenge is this: the more you avoid, the more you will see this as a healthy pattern and eventually convince yourself that it is okay to avoid and you see it as not being a problem. To avoid having that conversation with your spouse or your close friend and family members is to say to them that I prefer being independent, I get tired of the other person wanting to talk all the time, I tend to avoid due to the feelings and emotions from the other person, and besides, why should I talk as we seem to never resolve problems and all we do is argue or fight.

If you can identify as being an avoider, my heart goes out to you. You have far too many memories of not experiencing conversations being resolved in a healthy way. You have no confidence right now that you and your spouse, loved one, or best friend can have a peaceful conversation without their being an argument, fight, accusations, and blaming going on. So you avoid to protect yourself from further pain and hurtful words with that important person. You say to yourself, “I would rather change the oil in the car or go into my man or women cave and go on Facebook or watch ESPN than talk to you.” Your avoidance makes sense. Thanks for reading.