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.