This past week I read the book pictured above and learned something that challenged most of my approaches to interpersonal conflict. I am “conflict averse” as in I hate disagreements between me and those close to me. I have developed lots of ways to avoid arguments, believing that nothing good could come from them. Somehow in my mind I carried the idea that two people, whether spouses, friends or adult child and parent should always be in tune with each other and that failure to do that was a sign of trouble.
Ed Tronick, the researcher author of the book(helped greatly by the easy prose of his co-author Claudia Gold) put the lie to all that. Many years of study of mothers and infants, couples, and parents and children have demonstrated conclusively that we grow from the times we are out of tune with each other. However–and this is a big however– that only happens if after the rupture(falling out) in the relationship, the connection is repaired. When two people can successfully get through the mess of disconnection(rupture) back to the harmony of connection(repair) the relationship grows.
Clearly I had lacked experiences of repair when I was growing up, as do many people. Often the “my way or the highway” style of parenting or unresolved fighting of parents suggests that ruptures cannot be repaired. Who would want to experience ruptures with no hope of repair? Not me, that’s for sure.
Now with this new and encouraging understanding, I am most intrigued to try out this new behavior. I am in safe relationships, and I can practice trusting that ruptures can be repaired. For any readers who share my challenge with disagreements, I wholeheartedly recommend the book.