Most couples are frustrated by the fact that most of their problems are unsolvable. It’s hard to have the same battles over and over again.
As a first step, quit trying to solve the problem. It’s wasted energy. Instead, focus on achieving perspective, empathy, and, ultimately, better dialogue.
Hi, I’m Amanda, Co-founder of Retune.Life and we run workshops to help couples reconnect, as well as, individual and couple relationship coaching.
Most arguments are over nothing, for example, “There’s constantly fruit flies in the bowl!”
Think of the problem as a third thing, trying to distract and disgust you, kind of like fruit flies.
That third thing is designed to disrupt the comfort of the home, literally bugging you with the accumulation of small annoyances that become an infestation.
In the case of fruit flies, there are a bunch of home remedies. But what’s required is that you find the nest and remove it. Best if you do that together, with one another.
That’s what dialogue is. It’s a conversation with one another, rather than at one another, that is designed to reveal the deeper meaning of a particular conflict.
Dr. Gottman refers to this as the “dream within conflict.”
Whenever the dream or hope or aspiration for the relationship is ignored, problems arise. But when those dreams are revealed and understood and respected, it creates space for the relationship to become more meaningful than the problem.
Try this exercise. This process is called ‘Overcoming Gridlock’.
Think through some of your perpetual problems. See if you can recognise the patterns within the conversations that you’ve been rehashing over and over without progress.
Make up a brief, a new story that may explain your own dream or position within that particular conflict.
What hidden meaning are you trying to express?
Is it connected to something in your childhood?
Is it rooted in anxiety or fear?
Does it stem from a previous relationship expectation?
Once you’ve crafted your own narrative, do the same for your partner. Get curious about their dream or position. See if you can articulate what deeper meaning may be there for them.
Compare notes after you’ve both done the exercise and see if it doesn’t create new dialogue around an ancient issue.
What were we fighting about in the first place?
I think it’s about perspective. If you can accept, that many of your problems aren’t going away, then you can focus on what to do about those issues when they come up.
Perpetual problems are clashes in needs.
As a first step, as mentioned before, quit trying to solve the problem. It’s wasted energy. Instead, focus on achieving perspective, empathy, and, ultimately, better dialogue.
Here’s some examples of Perpetual problems:
One is time conscious and does not like being late – the other is always late.
One is shy – the other outgoing and sometimes loud.
One likes to be active & adventurous – the other is a couch potato.
One likes nice hotels and quiet holidays – the other likes ruffing it & active adventurous holidays.
Introverts need solitude to re-energise – extroverts like socialising to re-energise.
Compromise does not mean you let go of your own needs and dreams.
It is being open to influence and identifying what is not negotiable and what is flexible for each of you.
Have a discussion, to more deeply understand one another’s point of view, feelings, beliefs, and dreams behind the issue,
and to search for some small area within the perpetual problem where you might be able to reach a temporary compromise.
These discussions will indeed help you to understand each other better and see into your partner’s inner world, deepening your connection.
I hope you got something out of this and feel you have more tools in your belt now to manage conflict in your life.
If improving your relationship is something you’d like to explore, you can reach out to me here, via personal message, or via the Retune.life website.
Bye for now!