Families can be the source of our greatest joys and most cherished memories. They are the places where we experience the most intimate forms of human relationship. They are where we return to as sanctuary away from life's ongoing challenges.
Family conflicts can also occasion deep and enduring pain and trigger overwhelming feelings of loss, anger and confusion.
Sometimes the intensity of feelings generated in family conflicts are so strong that we lose sight of the possibility of working through the problems reasonably and fairly. When this happens we typically become either aggressive and adversarial or defensive and avoidant. In other words, we opt to either fight or to run away and hide.
These "fight or flight" responses are deeply ingrained in our biological makeup and so are perfectly normal. They are not however the best options for dealing with conflict if you want a fair, reasonable, prompt, sustainable and cost effective solution to the problems which lie behind your conflict.
Those who opt for the aggressive and adversarial approach to conflict try to impose their views on others without accepting that the perspectives of others must be part of the resolution of the problem. Regrettably, this sometimes is done with violence of a physical, psychological, financial, or sexual nature.
Although litigation in the courts has been the norm in our society for hundreds of years, it is based on an adversarial philosophy. It is battle disguised in civilian clothes. where one party attempts to defeat the other in court and have the judge declare them the winner of the battle.
Those who opt for defensiveness and avoidance just want the problems to go away and they are prone to giving up and despair. They at times fail to protect what they believe to be important and to claim what is rightfully theirs - just to avoid the fight.
There are better ways to resolve family conflict.
Mediation and Arbitration are dispute resolution processes that have significant benefits over lawsuits in the courts.