Marriage Myths Four

MYTH: TALK THINGS OUT UNTIL YOU AGREE WITH EACH OTHER.

Sixty-nine percent of marriage problems are managed rather than solved, according to John Gottman’s research. “The common lore is that conflict avoidance is a bad thing, but it really works for a lot of people to just ‘agree to disagree,'” he says.

The key is to avoid a “gridlocked conflict,” in which you can’t make headway in a recurring fight. At the bottom of these issues, the Gottmans have found, are core value differences that take couples by surprise. For instance, a fight about finances isn’t just about the cash but about the meaning of power, freedom, and security. You might not be able to find the perfect compromise, but by creating an open dialogue, you can discuss the issue without hurt feelings.

Coming from different cultures but growing up in the same environment, Danny and I are different yet the same. Early in our relationship Danny and I unconsciously developed a method for conflict resolution. We will discuss a subject until we realize that we have hit a wall and neither of us is capable of climbing over it at the time so we drop the subject. Because the issue is unresolved, it will come up at another time and we discuss until we at least understand the others’ feelings or opinions. Sometimes it can take a long period of time and several discussions for us to find common ground. As I see it, we respect our relationship enough that we are willing to table the discussion knowing that eventually we will at least understand where the other is coming from. I think that during the time that the subject is being given time to breathe, each of us has stopped to consider the others’ side so we seem to get a little closer to a resolution each discussion.

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