A Divorce Coach/Attorney Walks Into A Wedding… part 3 – Welcome Superego (not referring to me, of course)!

The more we push, the more they withdraw – so typical!

Welcome to my penultimate post in my 4-part series, a “Divorce Coach/Lawyer Walks Into A Wedding”. In this post, I’ll discuss conflict and reveal some insight into why most of the arguments we have with our spouse are an unproductive use of time and energy. To review my 2 prior posts in this series, click https://thereslifeafterdivorce.com/blog .

The best time to write about conflict is when you’re not having one. Why? Because most humans, except for people on their 9th life path, are ego driven. Nothing can conjure human ego more than conflict. Our egos keep us in a state of “shovel-ready” conflict at all times because our ego supervises our ids. To review psychology 101, the id is the feral part of our personalities that responds to our capricious urges and desires. Ego-driven conflict is the stressful, unproductive conflict that most of us have because as Freud theorized, our ego keeps our id in check, and when it comes to conflict, may only serve to keep us from acting completely like toddlers. When was the last time you observed toddlers productively and peacefully resolve conflict? Yep, never.

Marriage provides fertile ground for conflict, while a good marriage provides fertile ground for harmony of our individual wants and desires. When two people come together in marriage, the legal contract of the marriage does not change the composite needs and desires of each spouse. In other words, marriage does not create a happy bubble that surrounds the couple and keeps them conflict-free. Each spouse is still an individual with his and her own ids and egos. Our respective ids and egos will clash, which is inevitable. If we accept the fact that conflict is inevitable, we can then analyze our approaches to conflict so that when we are presented with it, we transcend acting out of our egos and instead act out of our superego, which as it implies at least to me, takes super hero effort.

Now that we know (and accept) conflict will occur in marriage, let’s consider what conflict is and what it offers us if we approach it with a superego driven mindset. Conflict is a clash of positions on any given issue or topic. Let’s say a couple has one orange and each spouse wants it. What do we do? We could argue that we are more entitled to the orange than the other and take it, which will piss off the other spouse, yielding frustration, resentment, and possible contempt (see prior post). But who wants to be an Orange Bogart? So, perhaps instead we offer to cut the orange in half? That outta work, right? That’s a true compromise. And if we are truly on our game, we may even suggest that one of us do the cutting and other other does the picking of the half. That’s even more brilliant because now we have equal incentive to be fair and exacting in our cutting of the halves. But, I submit, that this solution may not serve us well after all. Why? Because there’s an important phenomenon missing. Understanding the interest the other spouse has in the orange in the first place. Implicit in the division of the orange scenario is that we assumed the other spouse wanted the orange just to eat the orange. We didn’t bother to ask why the other wanted the orange. We didn’t consider what his or her interest was in the first place. We assumed it was for eating and granted that is a probable assumption. But when it comes to human behavior, we can’t always assume we know what the other’s interest truly is.

In a marriage where conflict is a welcomed friend rather than avoided foe, we are free to ask why our spouse takes a certain position to understand what interest the spouse is either advocating or protecting. If we consider interests, rather than positions, we can transform the conflict from an unproductive waste of time to a mutually satisfactory problem-solving session. Consider that one of the spouses wants the orange to make orange juice while the other wants the orange peel for a muffin recipe and to make candied orange peels. Perfect! Now we each can be 100% pleased because we understand that both interests can be completely served with the one orange.

Here’s my point in a nut-free orange peel shell, conflict should be a welcomed opportunity to discuss our interests rather than our positions for any given topic. When we understand our spouse’s interest, we can better problem-solve the clash of positions and reach either compromise (after all sometimes we both might want to eat the orange and half will do), or collaborate and each walk away with 100% of our interest intact. Cooperation and collaboration aren’t instinctual responses to conflict. Rather our egos direct us to argue that the other spouse had eaten more oranges than the other, or that we were even hungrier than other spouse, so more entitled. Our egos focuses us on further entrenching our positions rather than investigating the interest forming the foundation of the position we seek to protect or advocate.

The next time you are presented with an opportunity for conflict, I encourage you to do these things: 1) welcome it as opportunity to learn and grow, 2) ask the other party to the conflict why they want or don’t want something, and 3) problem-solve the disagreement. You may still get angry and frustrated during this process. You may get worn out and want to quit. But as I eluded to my previous post, marriage takes work. Cooperation and collaboration approaches to conflict take work. The least we can do for the greater good of our marriages and ourselves, is to change our approach to conflict and make use of this time as productive as possible. Raise your hand if you want less time spent arguing so you have more time for juicing and baking. I raised both hands. After all, juice and muffins go well together.

The Orange Story is a classic example of conflict resolution from a mediation perspective, written by Lee Jay Berman (Santa Monica Business Journal, May 1996). I also refreshed my memory of id, ego, and superego by visiting here. The 9th life path reference is a numerology concept and the number itself is symbolic in Hindu astrology and even is represented in our Western culture with cats and clouds.

For divorce coaching services, please visit www.there’slifeafterdivorce.com, e-mail me at coachdivorcesuccess@gmail.com, or call me at 321-482-5060.

For divorce legal representation for a Florida divorce, please visit www.sharpdyelaw.com, e-mail me at Lindsey@sharpdyelaw.com, or call 321-951-7600.

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