Oh, the warriors within us! Longfellow said it eloquently: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s … suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” Indeed. And yet, we do find many things to argue about. Usually it’s not so much about the subject as it is about someone being on your turf.
As parents we spend a certain amount of energy interacting with our warrior children — hopefully this is only a small part of your relationship, but sometimes it can go on for too long, and it might be worth further exploring your internal warrior — the part of you that engages quickly in conflict, the part that escalates even as you know it isn’t good, not right or healthy or even sane.
Same holds true for marriages. Hopefully you are not spending the majority of your time interacting with your partner’s warrior, but we’ve all been there, and when it gets really ugly, it’s no fun. John Gottman talks about the four horsemen of the relationship apocalypse and one of them is “contempt.” When the conflict gets to the point that you genuinely begin to feel contempt for your partner, it’s time to get help.
I enjoy helping clients explore the parts of them that get in the way of harmonious relationships, the parts that bring more conflict into their lives than they need or want. Sometimes what lies beneath the fightin’ mad part of us is a very interesting part — a creator or a fool or an innocent — who wants to enjoy life or work at something more important. But with the warrior always being in conflict, these other archetypes don’t get the time and attention that they deserve.