There was an article written recently titled “How Co-Sleeping Ruined My Marriage.” It was written by a father (Van-Winkle) and it received a lot of backlash from the parenting community. I, however, enjoyed it immensely. If you can read past the specifics of the article it highlights the importance negotiation and compromise within partnership.
The author presents that he and his wife had very different views on co-sleeping and that, in the end, it was their lack of ability to change each other that led to the demise of their marriage. At the end of the article the author concludes that “co-sleeping was the casus belli– but the resulting chaos proved fatal” (Van-Winkle, 2015).
I will not take a stand on co-sleeping or not, that is not the point. The point is that all couples have problems that by nature are difficult to solve. John Gottman calls these ‘perpetual problems.’ These problems arise because of our strongly rooted belief systems, family or personal experiences, culture, and perspectives causing these beliefs to become areas of high emotion when challenged.
The good news? Every couple has perpetual problems.
The bad news? It’s up to you and your partner if you choose to let perpetual problems become gridlocked perpetual problems (Gottman). They do not have to be.
- Find 1 positive thing in your partner’s point of view, even if it’s dramatically different than yours.
- Accept that your partner’s view is part of what attracted you to them- don’t squash it.
- Bring humor and levity into these situations; it helps, trust me.
- Decide if you would rather be RIGHT or HAPPY, you cannot be both all the time.
One of my favorite professors authored a book called, “We’ve Had This Fight Before.” The idea being that most couples will not have 500 fights but the same 5 fights 100 times. It’s a fascinating theory and an even better read. This would be another illustration of perpetual problems. The next time you are eager to jump on your partner for the same thing again? It might be worth remembering the adage that you ‘cannot change someone else, only your reaction.’
So, today, would you rather be RIGHT or would you rather be HAPPY?
Disclaimer: the above problems do not apply to abuse or neglect. If you are in need of more support, visit www.equipcounseling.com.