Understand the problem BEFORE the fight starts.
If you are in a relationship, you've probably noticed that the same problems come up over and over.
Perpetual problems often occur when your partner doesn't understand or know your feelings. It's easy in our fast-paced world to forget about our dreams or shove them aside. It's even more frustrating when our partner doesn't even know what our dreams are.
More than anything, we want our partner to always have our back and really "get" us.
When you don't feel this way, you start drifting apart.
Relationship wisdom from the Gottman Institute tell us that "acknowledging and respecting each other's deepest, most personal hopes and dreams is the key to saving and enriching your marriage." (This is based on 40 years worth of empirical research the institute has conducted with countless couples.)
If you feel frustrated by the conflicts you and your partner have over and over, know that many couples go through this after they're together for a while.
But, there is good news!
You can use The Gottman Institute's research to overcome the perpetual problems in your relationship and stop the fights before they start. Here are seven helpful tips:
1. Be interested your relationship.
Couples who take a deep interest in their partner and their relationship are more likely to have a happy and satisfying relationship, than those who do not. Ask your partner questions about their day, their thought, their feelings — and then wait for their answers. This lets your partner know that you're invested in the relationship.
2. Keep (both of) your dreams alive.
Allow yourself to contemplate dreams that you buried in your perpetual problems, in order to understand the feelings and wishes that you don't address in the relationship.
If you don't know your partner's dreams, then you don't know your partner. It's important to create an environment that's safe enough for both of you to share your dreams with each other. Your dreams don't have to match, but you need the support from each other.
3. Avoid the blame game.
Dig deeper and suspend judgment. Beneath the conflict, you and your partner need to come to an understanding. Ask questions, but don't attempt to resolve the conflict immediately. This will help set a positive tone on your disagreements.
4. Comfort each other.
Perpetual problems are stressful, so when your partner speaks to you, use a nice and soft tone and compliment them. This means, using "I feel" statements and stating what you need from your partner. Don't rush. If you feel that you're incapable of a productive conversation, then take a break.
5. Accept that some problems are unsolvable.
Dr. Gottman stated that the goal is to "de-claw the issue," to try to remove the hurt so the problem stops being a source of great pain. It's easy to focus on solving the problem, but you should also work on understanding one another. Learn to have a less painful conversation about your perpetual problems.
6. Try to be flexible in understanding your partner.
Go into this conversation with a positive attitude. Try to make the areas that you cannot agree on as small as possible. This is where you want to be like Gumby and bend as much as possible. Don't argue to be right or for your point of view. Listen with empathy to your partner.
7. Work on a compromise
You both need to feel that your dreams are being honored, you're not looking for a quick fix here. Take time to work on steps that will help you both achieve your goals.
We've been hearing this since the beginning of time, compromise is key in a relationship. When you don't compromise you create the "I win/we lose" scenario. What you really want is the we win/we win scenario.
We hope that by taking these steps it will help you manage conflict in your relationship. All couples have conflict, but The Gottman Institute found that 69 percent of problems in a relationship aren't solvable. So, this means that couples have to learn to have a dialogue about their problems, one that's not harmful to one another.
This article was originally published at www.LessonsforLove.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.