Embrace relationship conflict

40-50% of married couples in the United States get divorced.

Basically, the officiator should hand you divorce paperwork to file away on your wedding day. You can keep it in your bottom drawer with a coupon for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream as collateral and a bag of Cheetos (they won't be stale 20 years from now!)

I’m not pessimistic about relationships. I’m just voicing how without deliberate work, even the most wonderful relationships can wane. This is as true for our love lives as it is at work.

My social circle has a tendency not to voice relationship difficulties. Nobody wants to admit that they face conflict with the person they love most. That’s scary.

But conflict is inevitable in any relationship. As we change, our relationships change. We must adapt. Or break up. As the protagonist in the movie Her aptly said,  “It was exciting to see her grow and both of us grow and change together. But that's also the hard part: growing without growing apart or changing without it scaring the other person.” We must accept that conflict is a natural part of relationships.

How will you deal with the inevitable change?

I’m in a great relationship now. We have difficult conversations almost weekly. We recognize that our needs and wants are always changing. We must reset boundaries and address new conflicts. We have a weekly-checkin that provides a proactive and constructive way to adapt to change.

The larger problem is that our culture paints relationship conflict as bad. When was the last time a friend turned to you and said, “I just had the most wonderful disagreement!”

We need cultural role models who recognize that addressing conflict is part of life.

Instead of Maury Povich and Jerry Springer, there should be a TV host called Jerry Lover – a sweet man who helps people strengthen their already thriving relationship. Jerry has jerry curls. He gives homage to the fact that all relationships need work. Jerry wears pink overalls and looks adorable.

Imagine billboards with the National Mother of the Year, helping her children overcome stressful experiences. We should hear from the couple who “fights fair” and helps other people do so too. There should be public forums where couples can work through their issues.

What if people felt comfortable exposing their relationship’s underbelly without feeling like a failure?