When two people have a disagreement, the most common “solution” is to let some time go by and wait for it to become “water under the bridge.” There may be apologies exchanged at some point, but once tempers cool off, people usually go back to the relationship as if nothing happened…

…or do they?

If a disagreement is not properly resolved, resentment often develops on at least one side. We tell ourselves to be forgiving and remember the love we feel for each other. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Let it be, let it go, everything will be ok. But that’s not really how we feel, and to have an authentic life, we have to keep it real.

When a disagreement becomes
When a disagreement becomes "water under the bridge" is it really resolved?

Why do we disregard our own feelings? Because it’s risky and uncomfortable to reveal them. By opening up the conversation and putting the truth on the table, you might find that the other party doesn’t respect your feelings. You might discover a difference in values that would bring the relationship to an end. You might expect to be right and find that you aren’t. Maybe someone will judge what you have shared.

Given the risk, we play it safe and opt for the polite route. We don’t discuss the problems. We smile when we feel like screaming, and we sweep resentment under the rug where it will fester and multiply. Then one day, that straw in the camel’s back snaps in two, and you’re suddenly involved in an argument about how someone always does something or never does something. All the resentments you have been sweeping under the rug come flying out at once. When the other party throws his or her own resentments into the mix, it becomes far too complicated to resolve with a simple conversation.

With hindsight, we can see that all the water flowing under that bridge was full of debris. When that relationship comes to a messy end, closure is elusive and the scars remain.

What if we mustered up a little courage and insisted that only clean water flow under the bridge? You have that conversation at the first sign of trouble. You let your truth out of the bag, and maybe you find that you both care enough to honor each other’s feelings. You agree to specific changes moving forward that will strengthen your bond. Maybe those changes also strengthen your ability to resolve the next conflict.

Imagine the course of that relationship. Two people who took a chance on truth found a way to work through a small misunderstanding. They followed through on the changes they agreed to, and with practice, those new behaviors became second nature. The original disagreement never came back to haunt them. When they reached the next, they had enough confidence in each other to bank on truth again.  Years later, they were both better people as a result of being in relationship together…truly together. They had taken one step at a time through a road less travelled and were so much happier for the effort.

Let’s change the status quo in relationships, and put a dam under that bridge. At the first sign of debris, sit down and talk about it. If you discover that the person on the other side is not respectful of your feelings or is somehow not what you thought, then it’s best to know that early, right? Use that new freedom to find a more authentic match.

Time to transcend! This blog series is intended to challenge you by reaching beyond the status quo. If you are feeling resistance, consider that your ego is coming forward and presenting you with an opportunity to grow. This is where the magic happens!