You don’t have to resolve every issue

Some issues between you and your spouse just won’t be resolved ever. Noted relationship expert John Gottman calls these ‘perpetual problems’. These center on either fundamental differences in your personalities, background, and experiences, or fundamental differences in your life style needs. Every couple has some perpetual problems that just aren’t solvable. One of the couple likes to be very early and the other is habitually fashionably late. One likes to go out to simchas, the other wants to stay home. Spending/saving differences. Spontaneity vs careful planning. Level of neatness. What to do with children’s vacation. And on and on…

It’s how you deal with these perpetual conflicts that is important. Accept that you will not love or even relate to every nuanced aspect of your spouse. You will have different perspectives about certain things.

– Your conversations around these issues follow your mindset about them. Since the issues are not going away, you may as well look at them with humor, affection and amusement. Turn them into the running private joke.

– View your perpetual problems in the context of the positive aspects of each other and your relationship.

– Most of the personality characteristics of your partner that become perpetual problems which irritate you have a positive side to them. Focus on those. You may be annoyed at your spouse’s unpredictability but you also find their spontaneity exciting. Remind yourself when you see the negative side of these characteristics that you also enjoy the positive side of these aspects and that it is impossible to have the positive side without the negative side.

– Become aware of the background and meaning underneath your partner’s position when discussing a perpetual problem. Once you and your partner are aware of each other’s backgrounds and personalities, try to find ways to honor these – even if it’s not typically the way you operate.

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