Cultural Blog 7: Conflict

This week at DBC, we’re learning about conflict. Conflict comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes and colors and flavors, but its most common characteristics are anger and frustration. Whether it be a minor conflict like taking too long in the shower, or a major conflict like spending habits and budget, there are ways to mitigate the emotions that conflict brings about.

Here’s a story: When my wife and I were planning our wedding, I kept feeling like my opinion didn’t matter. I wanted to be involved in the decision making, but my ideas always seemed to be ignored. When it came time to choose the menu, I was adamant about being included, and even scheduled the day that we would all go in together. Turns out, my wife and her Mother had a meeting a few days before that and they decided to just go ahead and choose the menu, since it would save us from having to make another trip to the venue. I was livid. I went on and on about how once again, my interests were being ignored. It wasn’t until she showed me the menu (after I had cooled down) that I realized she had chosen the menu with me, and only me, in mind. We’re talking roast beef carving station, chicken fingers (because I’m 5 years old), even a mashed potato bar where they put the mashed potatoes in martini glasses. Fancy. I felt touched that she would choose all these items, especially since her palette is so much more refined than mine. She really was thinking about me, even though I wasn’t there. Now she was upset because she had tried so hard to make me happy and here I was going off on her for such a minor annoyance. Looking back, it seems so petty.

If we dissect this conflict, it’s fairly easy to see a few things immediately. The source of the conflict was my annoyance at not being included, once again. The basic emotions would certainly be anger and frustration, but I also felt that my opinion wasn’t being respected and that my ideas weren’t good enough.

In the end, we patched things up and got over the stupid menu. Even writing this 7 years later, I cringe a bit at how immature my behavior was. If I could do it all over again, I would probably try to explain my frustration early on, before it bubbled over into an emotional volcano.

If I’m being completely honest, I can’t say I learned a lot from that experience. I’m still emotionally volatile, apt to get frustrated at minor inconveniences that seem like world-ending issues at the time. Even just now, I was trying to save some code work I’d done to GitHub, but couldn’t get a decent internet connection. I was about ready to punch my screen in frustration when the connection suddenly came back and the code submission went through, leaving me embarrassed in front of no one for getting angry.

The struggle continues. My name is Edwin Unger, and I’m a web developer. Sort of.