How We Create Drama In Our Relationships (And How To End It For Good)

It was very enlightening for me to read about the heart of conflict in The Anatomy of Peace by the Harbinger Institute. It really is a game-changer for relationships, and I just wanted to share some key insights from it about conflict and how to deal with it at the roots, and not at the leaves.  I also remember reading somewhere that war weakens both parties, and that if we don’t find ways to end war, that war will end us. Hopefully this piece can help you put an end to your wars, so mental energy can be re-dedicated to business matters.  


This might sound familiar:


John: Hi, I’ll just be a minute. Just need to grab my tennis bag, I’m heading out. 

Jane: You’re going to tennis?

John: Yeah, meeting up with the others. Almost running late right now. 

Jane: … I guess though, you said you would mow the lawn when you came back. 

John: Yeah.. Yeah, I’ll do it after tennis. Tomorrow.  

Jane: Ok… Um.. Yesterday you said tomorrow? 🙂 

John: Yeah.. I mean.. It’s kind of dark right now to be honest.. I’m not sure..   

Jane: Well you said you would do it… so… I mean.. 

[Insert part where the situation escalates]

John: OK FINE! 

*Does the green in total darkness, purposefully NOT turning on the lawn lights or any outside lights*   


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Mister Edgy!


Provocation at it’s finest. 🙂 But our point of focus is not here. Our point of focus is right at the beginning. 


Right at the beginning when John walks through the door:


John says: “No time, gotta run.”

Jane gets: “No time to do what I said would do, gotta run.”

John is running late for an appointment, Jane doesn’t care.

Jane says: “Yesterday you said tomorrow.” 

John gets: “I didn’t choose the nag life, the nag life chose me.” 

John made an engagement to Jane. But now he doesn’t care. 


The moral of the story/my point is this: 


The reason this candid discussion ended up in the shits is not because A was trying to nag B, or because B was trying to weasel out of a commitment, per se.

It’s because A and B had their own agendas, and because neither A nor B cared enough about the other’s agenda. 


When someone feels neglected, war begins.


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In John’s head, he was going to the court. Jane did not care.

In Jane’s head, John was going to mow the lawn. John himself did not care.

Who’s wrong here? I don’t know, really, in my eyes these two concerns are pretty legit! But here’s the thing: Before the “fight” even started, both of them had committed foul treatment towards the other. 

Because what are you doing, the second you raise your concerns over someone else’s? 

You’re essentially saying: “Hey, it’s cute you think you have a life, but me and my needs are more important.”


It’s a matter of who’s needs should come first.


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And obviously that’s not alright in any party, naturally. Male, female, boy, girl, parent, kids, grand-whathaveyou..etc Not because I say so, but because this is how shit gets started between people. 

This is how war breaks out. Somebody has failed to care, and it’s worse if it’s always the same person picking up the tab. Right? I mean this stuff you know just from experience. 

So you might be thinking: “Great but, why should I be the one to care more when they care less?”

And the answer of course has to be: “Because someone has to.” If you’re going to have a relationship at all.  

I think my point is not that someone should care more, but rather that there should be a balance of power that allows for conflicts to be resolved peacefully. (Aka, in compromise)


  • John is in a hurry but still does the lawn. 
  • Jane let’s John off the hook this one time, because he’s in a hurry.  

Someone’s taking the high-road and essentially being the bigger person. And that’s what it means to have a big heart means. 

Obviously if you’re John in this situation, maybe you start organizing yourself a little better, so you can do what you want and what you said you would do.

That’s also responsible way to make business with other people.


It’s just ideas folks.

This is example is kind of cliché I know but, hopefully it still does something for you. 

Maybe it reminds you of a similar situation you’ve been in where tempers have flared without your intent. What we’re doing here is simply reflecting on how to react differently to those situations, so the same unwanted results can be avoided. 

At the end of the day though, I think it’s still very key to have the courage to sit people down when alarming patterns emerge. It’s well understood that good communication is key in any relationship.

So yeah. I just wanted to offer a reminder that having basic human regard for other people totally undercuts the need for sophisticated conflict-resolution strategies. 

When it’s war, the hardest thing is to find your heart and show somebody you care for them.It’s hard because you’re under attack, you risk feeling vulnerable, and you’re not “seeing” any signs that they even care enough about you.. 


In war, showing that you (really) do care underneath it all is hard, but it’s also the most important thing.


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It’s the key to resolving the conflict. And somebody has to go first.. 


We live in a generation of not being in love and not being together
But we sure make it feel like we’re together, because we’re scared to see each other with somebody else.

At the end of the day though, I’d say most of us are just.. scared witless by this relationship thing. It’s hard. And I think that’s a really key clue to keep in mind. That a seemingly “evil” move from somebody could actually be coming from a place of unknowable fear.
Kind of softens the heart when you think about it that way.
And as I re-read this piece myself I realize it seems like I’m talking about romantics only but really this frame of mind can be applied to any relationship. It really does work the same way whether it’s war between spouses, friends, family, colleagues, whatever.  

In any case, conflict is born out of simple neglect many-a-times. And not out of pure “ill-will” as we like to think. Resolving it then requires openness, honesty, and the courage to show one-self.

That’s doing your own part.   

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