CONFLICT - ENEMY OR ALLY
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
I am a person that hates conflict and tries to avoid any confrontation with other people. But recently it is getting more difficult. I seem to find myself in all sorts of disagreements and situations of tension with those around me. Can you give some advice?
Relationships are the foundation of human existence. The first episode recorded in the Torah after the creation of Adam, the first human being -, is his relationship with Eve. In describing this relationship the verse says: " G-d said it is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helpmate opposite him" (Ezer Kenegdo).
The term "a helpmate opposite him" seems a little strange and long winded. Why couldn't the Torah just say "I will make him a partner", "a soul mate" or "a wife?"
Our sages explain that this phrase contains a message that is critical to the attitude that we adopt in any relationship. By Divine design no two people look or think alike. Everyone views reality differently, and each of us has different perspectives and attitudes to life experiences, challenges or opportunities. In other words, inevitably, every relationship will generate difference, disagreement and a degree of conflict.
The phrase "a helpmate opposite him" gives us the formula to deal with this reality. We need to make a choice. Conflict can destroy or build the relationship. With the right attitude and effective tools we can celebrate difference and make conflict an ally rather than an enemy. If we learn to work through our differences and resolve arguments with deep respect and good communication, the relationship will become even stronger and allow us to be a "helpmate" for each other. However, if we resist any degree of conflict and avoid difficult conversations, hoping it will all go away, we will remain "opposite" to each other and the relationship will inevitably deteriorate.
Relationships can never remain static. They thrive, develop and become stronger or they slip and weaken. Moments of conflict will always arise - you cannot avoid it. You need to invest effort and learn the necessary tools to embrace it and strengthen the bond.
Our relationships are a gift given to us by G-d. What we do with them is our choice.