Although conflict is unavoidable, it can also bring amazing benefits to a relationship.
Watch how this happens.
Murfreesboro, Ark., is home to Crater of Diamonds State Park, a site where the public can search for diamonds. For a small fee, visitors
can dig for diamonds and keep whatever they find.
The park is located above the eroded surface of an ancient volcanic pipe. This "crater" is actually a 37-acre open field that is plowed
from time to time to bring diamonds and other gemstones to the surface. I will never forget my first impression of this place. It wasn't
pretty. This volcanic field is a treeless wasteland of dirt and rocks and, apparently, diamonds. At first glance, it seems impossible that
there could be anything valuable hidden beneath the ancient volcanic dirt.
This is actually a perfect picture of the hidden value of conflict. On the surface, conflict is not pretty. For some, it feels rocky and
treacherous – full of tension and anger. Other couples experience conflict more as a distant wasteland – filled with avoidance
and withdrawal. Either way, most couples experience conflict as frustrating and painful, something they should definitely avoid. However, as
the person who found a 40.23-carat diamond at the state park discovered, conflict is loaded with potential treasures as well.
Most people, for good reason, view conflict in a negative light. They believe that the arguments and angry interactions between a husband
and wife are not just stressful but unhealthy. In the end, many couples see conflict as a sign that their relationship is in trouble. This
belief is understandable yet unfortunate. Conflict is not negative; instead, it's an inevitable part of marriage that will be managed in
either a healthy or an unhealthy way.
I prefer the word "managing" over "resolving" conflicts. Rather than making it our goal to resolve arguments, we must learn how to manage
The good news is that if we manage conflict in a healthy way, like Crater of Diamonds State Park, it is loaded with treasures to be
unearthed. Marriage expert John Gottman addressed this issue in his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail:
In the same way that the Grand Canyon expands as the Colorado River fights its way through, healthy conflict helps a marriage to
grow and evolve. If handled right, arguments have the potential to create greater understanding, trust, and connection. Many people fail to
see the true value of disagreement because it's housed in something unpleasant and unglamorous – like that wasteland of ancient
volcanic dirt. Most couples fail to notice the diamonds lying just under the surface, waiting to be discovered. Here are a few of the
diamonds buried within healthy conflict:
So what is the real value of conflict? If we compared each potential conflict benefit on that previous list to a 2-carat diamond, the
most valuable aspect of relational disagreements would be like the 40-carat diamond discovered at the Crater of Diamonds State Park.