How many times have you attempted to change things about your partner, or found yourself changing to become more like the perfect partner? The reality is most of the problems and differences between you and your partner are unsolvable.
Dr. Gottman, renowned couples therapist, believes the idea that couples must resolve all their problems is a fairytale. His research has found couples disagree on unsolvable, never-ending issues 69% of the time. Learn more about his research here. Indeed, the majority of problems in your relationship are unsolvable. This is because each individual in a relationship has differences in personalities, needs, and expectations that are fundamental to their core self.
Couples find themselves in trouble when they cannot talk about problems in a healthy way. Things escalate and tension between the two of you increases. You probably can relate: something seemingly simple as not taking out the trash can create intense, hour long arguments. Anger dominates the underlying feelings of hurt and the belief that your partner must not care. The argument can intensify if you’re both not able to be vulnerable and talk about the underlying feelings behind the frustration with each other.
Or you ignore the conflict and it always happens again or comes up in different ways. You both become habitual in how you interact with each other when in conflict and you are never able to break the cycle or find a solution.
Many times these problems never get talked about in a healthy way that brings upon change because you or your partner never feel safe enough to bring it up. This is sometimes due to past experiences with conflict in childhood, prior relationships, or it is because partners feel abandoned and disconnected from each other.
A relationship needs to achieve a certain amount of safety for one partner to communicate an interest in discovering the underlying meaning behind the anger of not taking the trash out. Only then can you and your partner finally open up about the feelings and needs underlying the issue at hand.
The reality is that when choosing a long-term partner, you are also choosing a set of problems that likely are not going to be solved. They will keep emerging in new ways through out the course of the relationship. The goal, then, is to have the ability to work with each other in order to improve the relationship so you are left with a set of problems that you can tolerate and even come to appreciate.
If you or your partner are thinking your relationship could use a tune up and professional help in working through the unsolvables in your relationship, you can learn more about how I work here.