• Most problems in relationships are unsolvable. So what do you do?

    69% of all conflicts in intimate relationships are unresolvable

    . This is because they are not issues of right/wrong, black/white, but matters of perspective — more like Democrat/Republican, or chocolate/vanilla.

    This fact tells you if you think communication issues are the fundamental issue between you and your partner, you’re almost surely wrong. Even the couples that communicate best will resolve only around 30% of their disagreements.

    It is not primarily communication skills that are needed to thrive in relationships, but the skill of recognizing when you’ve hurt your partner and being able to reach out and say/do something to move the relationship through it. Think of a skipping stone. Your relationship cannot get bogged down in every single disagreement. There are just too many of them. The water is too deep. You have to learn how to lightly touch down and then immediately keep moving.

    The other required skill is being able to recognize and accept this gesture from your partner and not just nurse your woundedness, demanding a deep and exhausting reckoning of everything.

    Being able to do this, in turn, requires the ability to choose your battles carefully. You can’t just avoid all your issues. Sometimes you’ll need to wade into the deep waters.

    These efforts to recognize potential trouble and head it off are called “repair attempts.” Here’s an example.

    Her: I’m so tired.

    Him: Why? From the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like you’ve been working super hard today.

    [He notices the angry look she shoots at him at that moment.]

    Him: [Makes a stupid face and looks at the floor.] I’m a total idiot.

    Her: I don’t know. Maybe not a TOTAL idiot. I’m hungry, wanna grab dinner?

    End of conversation. It could also go this way.

    Her: I’m so tired.

    Him: Why? From the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like you’ve been working super hard today.

    Her: What? Did I just hear you say, “I know baby, you’ve probably had a really hard day today, let me rub your back for a few minutes”?

    Him (picking up on the cue): Close. What I said was that you’ve had a hard day and I’d be happy to give you a massage because you work so hard and it’s the least I can do.

    Her: (Lying down on the bed, face down, and getting comfortable) That’s what I thought.

    The ability to handle potential problems this way distinguishes satisfied couples from dissatisfied ones. Not frequency of fights. Not intensity of disagreements. Happy couples don’t necessarily fight less or less intensely than unhappy couples, they just know how to not get bogged down in negative emotion and keep things on track.

    Is your relationship struggling?

    – Sick of perpetual conflict?

    – Frustrated and feeling like you’re not being heard?

    – Wish you could learn to turn things around like the example couple in this post?

    …Read more, or get in touch!