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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work – Principle 6: Overcome Gridlock

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work – Principle 6: Overcome Gridlock

Last Updated on May 6, 2022 by admin

I think it’s safe to say that a fairly universal truth is that all couples have irreconcilable differences. From something as small as a mismatch in how loud you like to listen to the TV, to as significant as differing opinions on how to raise children, all couples have at least that one thing that they can’t seem to solve, no matter how often they try. Although these disagreements may seem paramount to the success of your relationship, they’re not! It only becomes a problem when one or both partners is unable to accommodate the other’s request. The result is gridlock.

It happens when both people have dug their heels even deeper into their own stance, making compromise an ideal that’s moving further and further away. The signs of gridlock are clear:

You’ve had the same argument again and again with no resolution

Neither of you can address the issue with humour, empathy, or affection

The issue becomes increasingly polarizing as time goes on

Compromise seems impossible because it would mean selling out – giving up something important and core to your beliefs, values, or sense of self

Gottman has found that the best way to approach gridlock with your partner is to avoid it in the first place. Look for ways to accommodate your partner’s needs, no matter how trivial they seem to you, and try to talk about the problem without hurting each other. A happy couple is one who is aware of each other’s dreams and looks for ways to help each other achieve it, so don’t hide them from your partner! Let them know what it is that you want, and what a compromise from them would mean to you.

Even if those signs are all too familiar to you, don’t panic, your relationship is not over! There is a way to overcome gridlock, and it is to discuss with your partner why each person’s position is so important to them. By having the “Dreams Within Conflict” discussion, gridlock is something any couple can overcome.

There are four steps, but the most important of them all is step one – to explore each other’s dream(s). Write or plan out an explanation of your position and why it’s so important, all without criticizing or blaming your spouse. Spend 15 uninterrupted minutes as both the listener and the speaker, and throughout the process, genuinely acknowledge and respect what each other is sharing. Remember that it’s no use winning if it comes at the cost of crusting your partner’s dreams.

Soothe each other, look for areas you can compromise on, and most importantly, thank each other for being vulnerable. Be patient, trust the process, and if you’re looking for an indication that the gridlock in your relationship is dissolving, see if you can discuss the issue without it casting a shadow over the room.


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