Ever found yourself in a conflict with your partner that seems to have no solution? You just want different things or you see things from opposite ends of the spectrum. John Gottman’s research reveals “69% of marital problems are perpetual problems”, meaning they’re not going away and may not change. So what do we do? Ditch your partner and find someone who agrees with you most of the time? Nope!
The first thing you have to do is realize that all couples have ongoing differences. Maybe it didn’t seem like a big deal when you first started dating, but after a few years, it is a big deal that your partner likes to buy a new car every 5 years and you want to save for a rainy day. Couples who approach conflict with a “win-win” viewpoint are saying, “You’re important to me.” Couples who fail to recognize perpetual issues in their relationship find themselves in “gridlock”. You know gridlock has taken hold when you feel more frustrated and hurt after discussing the issue, you talk about it all the time with no resolve or you become rather stubborn and refuse to budge on the issue.
Navigating through gridlock lies with understanding the root of the dream behind your partner’s decisions. These dreams are hopes that provide purpose to your life. Talk to your partner about your dream behind the issue. Help them understand and empathize why it is so important to you.
Perpetual problems may never go away, however diffusing the hurt and anger associated with them allows you to talk openly and be more open to compromise. Your goal is not to change your partner, rather get on the same team as your partner.