By: Logan Everett, MA, LMFTA
Drs. John and Julie Gottman have changed how people view relationships and have equipped thousands of couples with the skills and tools to make their relationship work. In my part 1 of this article, I speak to the first three principles of the Sound Relationship House or what the Gottman’s refer to as deep-rooted friendship in a relationship. Once we are making efforts to build on these principles, it leads to our fourth level, the positive perspective.
Picture this – every single positive thing you do in your marriage can be considered as foreplay. If you are bridging the gap and (1)mapping your partner’s inner world, (2) sharing fondness and admiration and building a culture of respect and appreciation and (3) turning towards your partner daily (see descriptions) you are building your emotional bank account and continuously making deposits into your relationship towards the overall satisfaction of the relationship or marriage. This positive perspective is important for many reasons, but one main reason is for the following:
Principle #5: Managing Conflict
I often listen to Dave Ramsey’s podcast and happened to hear a quote from Dr. Les Parrott, “Conflict is inevitable in a marriage. Conflict is the price we pay for a deeper, more intimate connection with our partner.” I am sure I am paraphrasing, but the concept can be quite foreign to many couples that do not believe conflict is healthy – in reality the opposite is true.
Couples go through two different types of conflict:
- Solvable Problems
- Perpetual Problems
You might be surprised to know that most of the time (69%) couples are dealing with problems that are not solvable. Over a third of the time, we are fighting for something much more meaningful than a sink full of dirty dishes or a messy house. This means that just 31% of the time, we are dealing with problems that are solvable. There are several ways to solve our solvable problems and that is to avoid “The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse” by softening our approach (or start-up) to conflict, learn to repair, self-soothe, compromise and forgive.
In my therapy approach, I give couples the skills and tools to address conflict effectively and more constructively by using tools from the Gottman Method as well as tools from relationship expert Dr. Sue Johnson.
Dealing with perpetual problems or problems that you just cannot see eye to eye on is much more involved. These issues are rooted in the irreconcilable differences that all couples have (Yes, all couples). These are those typical conflicts that have the following characteristics:
- The same argument again and again with no resolution.
- The conversation has zero humor, empathy, or affection.
- The issue becomes increasing polarizing over time.
- Compromise is impossible because it would mean selling out – giving up something important and core to your beliefs, values, or sense of self.
If this describes some of your conflicts, I would recommend seeking the appropriate help for you and your partner or spouse. This may mean picking up “The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work” book and reading through the pages, speaking with a trusted friend or pastor, or scheduling an appointment with a couples therapist.
If we understand that conflict is inevitable – like the rain that allows growth and development to take place – we can “pay the price” for a stronger bond, deeper connection and more fulfilling relationship.
Conflict is an important factor in our relationships. Do you have the skills to make your work? For more information, please click on the links above or you may call at (317) 572-7411 or email me.