Learn how to not have the same problem repeatedly trip you and your partner up.

Have you ever had what seemed like the same argument over and over with your spouse or partner? And no matter how each of you approached it or looked at it, you couldn’t seem to find common ground on the situation? Well if you have been in this circumstance, and my hunch is that you have, you probably found it pretty darn frustrating. I did as well! It wasn’t until I came across the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman & Nan Silver, that this dynamic started to make a bit more sense to me.

As part of their Sound Relationship House Theory, Dr.’s John and Julie Gottman divided relationship problems into the following three groups.

• Solvable problems. Solvable problems can be about chores, running errands, or even the in-laws. Solvable problems for one couple can be about the exact same topics that could be perpetual problems for a different couple. However, a solvable problem in a relationship is typically about something situational. The conflict is simply about that topic, and there may not be a deeper meaning behind each partner’s stance. A solution can be found and sustained.

• Perpetual problems. These are problems that focus on either fundamental differences in your personalities, lifestyle needs, or values. Most if not all couples have perpetual problems. These issues can seemingly be about the kinds of topics that for another couple might be solvable; however, unlike a solvable problem, these are the problems that a couple will return to over and over and over again.

• Gridlocked perpetual problems. Perpetual problems are problems that have been mishandled and have essentially hardened into something “uncomfortable.” When a couple tries to discuss a gridlocked perpetual issue, it can feel like they are “talking in circles” and not making much progress. The nature of gridlock is that deeper meanings often underlie the issue.

So, now that you have more knowledge about the types of relational problems that exist, what’s the intervention for problems that are not solvable?

To find out, you will need to attend the Building a Strong Relationship course - please visit the class site at: https://health4u.msu.edu/courses/building-a-strong-relationship for upcoming dates.

Just kidding, kind of. If you can't make it to the course the following blog, P is for Problems, will shed a bit more light on this dynamic as well.

Happy Reading!

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