There are a few ways for a relationship to succeed:
1) The Perfect Relationship (conflict-free)
One is for the parties in question to be so perfectly matched that conflict never arises (A sad fact of conflict is that often when it arises it creates other messes, schisms, blemishes.).
Therefore, a conflict-free relationship generates no messes and love can thrive and grow.
a) The Perfect Relationship (a little less perfect)
The parties in question don't acknowledge any blemishes in the perfection. They don't allow themselves to notice if they feel disappointment or annoyance. Therefore there is no conflict.
Therefore, a conflict-free relationship generates no messes and love can thrive and grow
b) The Perfect Relationship for one (less perfect for the other)
One person prevails in the relationship and the other accedes. The one who accedes treats the Other's wishes as their own. The one who accedes submerges his/her will to the Other.
There is no conflict
Therefore a conflict-free relationship generates no messes and love can thrive and grow
2) The Imperfect Relationship
Conflict is acknowledged as an inevitable consequence of humans trying to work together. Furthermore it is acknowledged that conflict can be a source of other conflicts, schisms, and messes.
Therefore, there need to be effective tools to minimize the damage a conflict can cause, and tools to clean up its effects.
--good will sets the stage for successful conflict resolution. An understanding that the other person probably means no harm predisposes the best results
--conflict is often caused by misunderstanding: sometimes there is no conflict but misunderstanding creates the impression that there is. Some conflict can be eliminated by clearing up misunderstanding. This requires talking.
--conflict is often caused by genuine differences in priorities. Negotiation is the framework for deciding whose need is the most pressing in a given situation, or if it's possible for some elements of the needs of each to be met. If one's needs are deemed secondary in one circumstance they can receive assurance when to expect their needs will be met.
--conflict is sometimes caused when one person wants another to change behavior, especially if the behavior is annoying.
--strong feelings can arise in conflict. Sometimes these are the result of fears and beliefs. People often judge their own feelings (and those of others) very heavily. They may fear negative feelings mean something very bad about themselves. They may be afraid to talk about them, and so try to ignore them. In those circumstances feelings can fester and become resentment. To choose to be vulnerable instead, and share them with their partner can be frightening (because sometimes this can activate the partner's fears and negative feelings), and it can also be liberating. Being vulnerable opens up the possibility of hurt, but it also
opens up the possibility of understanding, relief, deeper intimacy and love.
The relationship is not conflict-free, BUT there is the ability to clean up the messes, heal the schisms, create more intimacy, and the imperfect relationship can thrive and grow.
Person A has a wound and believes something is wrong with him/herself. Person A is deeply ashamed of this. A believes that if person B is unhappy with his/her behavior that he/she, person A, has been very deeply insulted. Person A believes B should not feel any criticism toward him/her self. Or, if any criticism is felt, B should conceal it. To acknowledge conflict is to criticize, and this is not tolerable. To acknowledge conflict is grounds for deep resentment, anger, and wounded feelings, and that justifies retaliation. Retaliation happens at Person A's choosing, and can be delivered in circumstances far removed from the original offense. It can be demonstrated in obstructionism, subtle gestures of contempt, acts of hostility that are difficult to read but the feeling of having been stung is unmistakable.
Person B believes that direct acknowledgment and addressing of conflict is desirable. Person B asks directly for what he/she wants, and asks for an accounting if an agreement hasn't been kept.
If person A and person B are in a relationship, they have a serious problem. To have conflict is forbidden, and in fact generates more. There is no means possible to clean up conflict, so the air gets more and more polluted. Person A, no matter how gently and respectfully approached with conflict believes he/she has been violated. Person B believes that direct acknowledgment of conflict is the key to resolving it.
Therefore B's way of resolving differences is deeply offensive to A. Attempts to bridge gaps are seen as intrusive and threatening to A. Their methods are diametrically opposed.