I am a guy living in a house with three women. Two of them are under the age of five, the other is my beautiful wife. As I clumsily navigate through a minefield of emotional needs of the females in our home, I’ve observed both the joyous thrill of successfully deactivating and disarming an emotional bombshell, and the devastation of inadvertently detonating an explosion of hurt, anger and tears.
When a conflict arises, for the most part, I don’t think either party expects war to suddenly break out. I think the general intention of each side is to be heard and in good faith negotiate a peaceful settlement. Where this “peace process” becomes derailed is when there are fundamental, uncompromisable differences or when emotions come into play.
Usually at the first hint of emotional war I go to “DEFCON 1” and prepare to defend and protect my pride and dignity, while simultaneously going into damage control mode, attempting to capture and disarm all of the emotional missiles of hurt, pride, fear or anger before they can be launched, and wrap up the conflict before any major damage can be done by either party.
One of the biggest problems with this defensive strategy, however, is that by preventing the explosion nothing changes. The landscape, the politics, the economy all continue as they were, and any discord simply simmers below the surface until the fragile cease-fire is broken and the full arsenal from the previously-averted conflict plus new ammunition is unleashed with a greater ferocity than the last attack.
A proven strategy of averting war is to maintain a positive presence during peacetime. Countries will often have troops on the ground in humanitarian or peacekeeping roles, developing a relationship with the locals, understanding their needs and assisting wherever possible. This is a good example of a peaceful one-on-one relationship as well, staying engaged with each other’s day-to-day needs so that we can understand each other’s perspective when conflicts do arise.
I call it “offensive love.” Rather than choosing the selfish, defensive route, take to the offensive, spending time intentionally tending to the emotional needs of the people closest to you, and be reminded that we aren’t adversaries, but allies.
1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”