Every marriage or relationship has two types of conflicts – those that can be solved and those that never will be solved -- solvable and perpetual. The majority of conflicts are solvable but there once was a prevailing consensus among marriage counselors that if a couple could not find a way out of ongoing gridlocked disagreements that the marriage was usually doomed. Recent research, however, says otherwise. In both happy and troubled marriages there are honest opinions, disagreements, or positions that will never be solved since each partner brings to the relationship a set of values and a personality that are fixed. We all know that people marry because of shared interests, values, and emotional and physical attraction. But the reality is marrying someone is that you are also marrying a set of problems. If you intend to be in the relationship for the long haul, you must be prepared to accept or accommodate these sets of problems, whatever they be. Partners unable to appreciate this will almost certainly find themselves either in and out of relationships/marriages if they seek togetherness, or never in one that lasts.
Couples in long term relationships have learned how to accommodate these perpetual problems, whether they’re consciously aware of them or not. They’ve learned how to subordinate or accept these fixed habits for the higher good of the relationship and their overarching desire to live with their partner
What’s the difference between a solvable problem and one that is
§ Seem less painful, less gut-wrenching, less intense
§ Usually involve a situation and not a deep rooted concept like trust, security, or selfishness
§ Accommodating a specific situation is integral to the resolution of the conflict
§ Does not involve deep-seated needs
§ The conflict makes you feel rejected by your partner.
§ You keep talking about it but make no headway.
§ You become entrenched in your positions and are unwilling to budge.
§ After discussing the subject, you end up feeling more frustrated and hurt.
§ Your conversations about the problem are devoid of humor, amusement, or affection.
§ Over time you become more unbudgeable and leads you to vilify each other.
§ Your vilification leads you to be more rooted and more extreme in your view.
§ Eventually you disengage from each other emotionally.
There are various ways in which couples manage to subordinate their perpetual differences to the health and good of the relationship. However, the key to resolving or coping effectively with every marital conflict, solvable or perpetual, lies in a basic concept: communicating basic acceptance of your partner’s personality. Human nature dictates that it is virtually impossible to accept advice from someone unless you feel that that person understands you. So before you ask your partner to change his or her ways, you must make your partner feel that you indeed have an understanding of his or her position. If it is your mission to change your partner’s ways, it is a pre-requisite to first truly convince your partner that you indeed truly appreciate and understand (truly understand) his or her position. In doing so, then you are more than half way to solving the conflict in question. You yourself will not be amenable to making a change unless you feel your partner understands you and likes and
accepts you as you are and for whom you are. Feeling criticized and disliked makes changing and compromise impossible. When this happens we simply dig in to protect ourselves.
Because in the end, with all conflicts, no one really is ever right. There is no absolute reality in marital conflict, only two subjective realities. To the degree two married people realize this, accept it, understand and appreciate each other’s position and personality, will determine if they will enter their twilight years together or not.