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Making Marriage Work Part 5

Nan Silver and John Gottman PhD. wrote a book that covers seven key principles that are essential for couples to be happy and improve their marriage.  The book is called The 7 Principles for Making Your Marriage Work. We are now on principle five, which is to solve your solvable problems.  You are probably wondering what does that mean?

Silver notes that Gottman suggests “solving your solvable problems” means there are usually two types of problems that surface during a marriage. Common conflicts that will occur but can be resolved. Then there are perpetual problems that cannot seemed to be resolved.  Gottman recommend that each couple needs to be able to know how to differentiate between conflict and perpetual issues.

It is not always easy to tell the difference between a conflict or perpetual problems.  However, Silver recorded in her article that Gottman states clarifying solvable problems can appear less upsetting and intense. Versus, perpetual problems feel draining and creates serious levels of pride and contention.

Silver lists in her article five of Gottman’s steps that he says is a model for resolving these conflicts:

  • Step 1 Do your best to start the conversation without attitude and criticism
  • Step 2 Make the effort for “repair attempts” which Gottman describes this as efforts and or actions that deescalates strife and tension
  • Step 3 Every discussion should not always try to be resolved in the moment due to the elevated tension. Therefore, Gottman suggest cooling yourself down for about 20 minutes. Slow breathing, relaxing, and even visualizing to ease yourself.  Then try to help your partner cool down too if necessary. Discuss with each other which is more helpful for calming one another down.
  • Step 4 Work at leaning the conversation towards compromise. This means to take your partner’s feelings and thoughts about the situation into careful consideration. During this time discuss where you do agree and what you can agree on. Even when you share what you disagree on both partners need to strive to minimize the differences and maximize the similarities which will move you towards common ground which is compromising.
  • Step 5 Gottman says this step requires both partners to tolerate each other’s faults to come to a common ground for the sake of the relationship if you both value the relationship and its importance. Compromise is possible if you can learn to except your partner’s flaws. If you do not learn to except these flaws, compromise is impossible.

Do you know the difference between your conflicts versus perpetual problems?

(The information from this blog series has been adopted from the book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver, 2017)

“Healthy Living Begins with Healthy Thinking”

Joseph Briscoe

Life Coach

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