And one afternoon we had a humdinger of a row – I forget about what.
At its climax I delivered (what I thought was) a stinging riposte to something she’d said, then turned abruptly on my heel and stomped out of the room. But outside I remember thinking - with surprise - ‘I’m enjoying this’. So I swivelled through 180° and marched back into the room to declare ‘And another thing…’.
What was amazing, to me, was what happened next. Nothing. That is, nothing bad. The issue was addressed, clarified with some bracing (gulp) mutual honesty, then sorted in one way or another and we moved on.
In short, my new girlfriend had taught me how to have a bloody good row – safely.
And I say safely because, dear reader, I married her. And 34 years later we’re still together, with two adult children, one of whom is soon herself to be married.
A stronger connection
Conflict plus trust equals construction, progress, growth. And there have definitely been a fair few conflicts between us in all those years – of course. But they’ve been fought on a foundation of trust. And respect. And love. And so we've continued year after year, fighting and making up, and always somehow resolving our differences.
So the real challenge, it seems, is not actually conflict but trust - and how to build it in personal relationships, at work and in society as a whole. It can be a huge task but, as we explain in our book and teach on our courses, it’s both possible and hugely worthwhile.
Because once there is trust, even the fiercest of fights can lead to an even stronger connection, an even deeper bond.