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Catan Fights: How Non-destructive Conflict Breeds Intimacy

A few years ago some of our best friends introduced us to the game of Catan. If you're not familiar, it's a multiplayer board game that involves quite a bit of strategy. The games typically last at least an hour and can get really heated!


I didn't know how much I'd like the game because typically in the evenings my brain is worn out and I just need to laugh. But the pandemic slowed down the world enough to make space in my brain for more intrigue.


It took a few games to learn, but then I was hooked. And a funny thing happened. Our best friends and neighbors became our enemies. Not permanently, but for an hour we loved and hated each other. We got loud. We cussed. We said things to each other we would NEVER say if it were just normal life. It was hilarious and exhilarating. If you lost, you threw a fit and stomped out. Then the next day you were fine and wanted to play again.


Playing Catan tested our friendship in a really incredible way. It made a safe space for us to spar with one another, thereby fostering healthy conflict, thereby fostering much deeper intimacy in our friendship. It reminded me of when my boys were little and would wrestle with one another. They had to learn how to fight in a non-destructive way. They had to learn when enough was enough and how far was too far. They did this by making mistakes, but also by learning how to reconcile!


Non-destructive conflict is such an important part of healthy relationships. It shows us that we are not too much for one another. It proves that it's possible to have big emotions without ever losing the deep love and respect we have for one another. I am thankful for Catan and for my friends who will play with me.


Unsplash Maxime Gilbert

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