In his book “The Relationship Cure,” Dr. John Gottman says, “a full 69 percent of all marital conflicts never go away.” Having the same arguments over and over again can leave you feeling like your relationship is a broken record… the same song on repeat forever would drive anyone up a wall. Dr. Gottman calls these repeat conflicts perpetual problems, which are any issues where you and your partner don’t see eye-to-eye no matter how often it comes up. You can have perpetual problems about anything. Maybe you can’t settle on a financial budget that works for both of you or you keep fighting about who does most of the housework. These conflicts come up again and again without lasting resolution. Perpetual problems lead to gridlock. Recognizing gridlock is the first step in learning to manage the conflict around them.
Are you seeing any of these signs of gridlock in your relationship? Thankfully, getting unstuck from relationship gridlock is possible, and the process can even bring you closer. As Dr. John Gottman explains in "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work," all you need is the motivation and willingness to explore the hidden issues that are really causing the gridlock. So how can you move past gridlock and fix your broken record? Learn to be a "Dream Detective" in your relationship. Explore buried wishes and unaddressed desires without criticism. Explain your feelings and hopes without blame. Take breaks if emotions escalate. Some conflicts may be unsolvable, but strive for a compromise that honors both partners' dreams. By understanding each other's perspectives, you can make progress in communicating about perpetual issues in your relationship.