Did you know that most of the issues couples fight about don't actually have a solution? In fact according to John Gottman, who has researched couples for more than 40 years, he says that 69% of couples issues are not solvable. He calls these perpetual issues.
You may not not believe it, have lots of questions, or simply have lost hope after reading that. However, I am going to show you that you can believe it and that it can give a great deal of hope for the future of your relationship.
Let's first define a perpetual issue. A perpetual issue is something that continues to come up over and over again. No matter how much you discuss the issue with your partner, you get nowhere. In fact sometimes it just makes it worse the more you talk about it.
For example, one of you enjoys entertaining with lots of people. In fact you are the life of the party, love story telling, and making people laugh. However, one of you feels more comfortable in small intimate settings with one or two close friends. This often leads to the extrovert getting upset when the partner withdrawals into another room. Conversely the introvert gets embarrassed at something that was said or done by the other partner. This situation continues to play itself out over and over again, with no clear solution.
Here are three things you can do so that these perpetual issues are no longer problems.
1. Gain Understanding. Instead of trying to problem solve, get curious. Getting curious means gathering information about your partner. There was a 1970's show called "Colombo" in which the main character a detective simply asked lots and lots of questions. He didn't rush in with his thoughts and opinions first, he waited and gathered lots of information before forming an opinion. Look to do the same with your partner. In other words be a Colombo and begin to understand the deeper meaning behind the actions your partner takes. This will begin to humanize your partner and make it easier for you to understand them.
2. Accept Your Partner's Personality. Whether consciously or otherwise, we would like to change our partner's personality to be just like ours. This cannot be done, because much of personality is a result of genetic wiring. As a result, trying to change someone's personality might be like you working on a plan to shift Venus and Mars position in the solar system. Give up this futile effort and simply work with where they are.
3. See Your Partner's Subjective Reality. We often see differences as something bad. Your core values have been so deeply engrained into you from childhood that you often cannot see that another perspective might be just as good as yours. What if you realized that you both are right in most situations. In each situation, there is usually not a right or wrong, winner or loser, but in fact simply two subjective realities that are both right. Work on giving up some influence in a situation can go a long way to lessening the grip you have on thinking you must always be right.
Hopefully, these tips will help you during your next gridlocked problem area. Please leave me a comment on other ways you have found to work through issues.
Take care of yourselves and each other today.
The same can be said for a couples emotional bank account. The emotional bank account works the same as money in your local bank down the street. The account is full of emotional credits and debits. The result of those credits and debits is the balance. Depending on what that balance looks like, will go a long way to determining the health of your relationship. Obviously, we need many more credits than debits!
Here are three ways to increase your emotional bank account balance with your partner.
1. Change Your Perspective - It is natural to key in on the negatives in our relationships and science actually says our brains are wired so that negative events have a much stronger influence on us than do positive events. This is why it is so important to begin to scan your partner's world looking for things that have been done well or positive character traits that you cherish. This first step is simply a mindset shift.
For example, your mate arrives home and immediately begins complaining about her day. A negative mindset would immediately think, "wow what a negative person, she is always complaining." However, a positive mindset, would think something like, "she works so hard, that job is stressful, it's no wonder she is upset." Thinking differently can begin to set up success with the emotional bank account.
2. Tell Your Partner What You See in Them - From that positive mindset shift, now start to verbalize to your partner the positives you see in them. You can focus on personality traits that you enjoy such as an engaging smile, the way she laughs, or even the way she sneezes! You can compliment them on any number of roles they play in life - wife, sister, teacher, or friend for example. Be creative here and just look for ways to credit the bank account.
3. Give Examples - When you give concrete examples of actions that you see that prove the positive characteristics you see in your mate, this is like depositing big bonus checks! For example, telling your wife she is such a great teacher is one thing. It is another to say that "you are a great teacher, because I heard you encouraging and sitting with a distraught parent on the phone for 20 minutes the other day. This showed me what a kind teacher and human being you are." Wow, doesn't that sound awesome!
Give this a try starting today and I would like to hear how it is going, so please share your stories in the comment section.
If you need help in your relationship, contact me.
And make it a great day.