Are you sick and tired of fighting over the same thing all the time? Do you know that 69% of every couple’s arguments are perpetual disagreements, as reported by The Gottman Institute? The worst part is a ‘perpetual’ disagreement is rarely solvable and continues to raise its ugly head. Before you decide to lock your partner in the closet, or purchase stock in earplugs, let me provide a clearer understanding. Although these arguments are rarely solvable, it is important to come to an agreeable understanding, or an emotional disconnect will eventually evolve.
There are two reasons for perpetual arguments:
1. A significant difference in personalities
2. A significant difference in lifestyle needs
There are two main categories of disagreements; solvable and perpetual.
A solvable disagreement is a problem based on a particular situation. What one couple views as solvable another may view as perpetual. Money, sex, relatives, household chores, handling stress, are typical samples of this type of disagreement. It is not a fundamental difference so it can be solved and the couple can move on.
These are those pesky issues that don’t seem to go away. Every couple has these because they are based on our intrinsic core values. We protect our core values because they are ingrained in our soul. Think of Batman protecting the citizens of Gotham. He will go through fire, brick walls, and other insanely dangerous acts to accomplish his mission due to his passionate views on good versus evil. Whereas the Joker is his arch nemesis, that perpetually causes issues that go against Batman’s core beliefs. Now, don’t start thinking I’m claiming one of you is the honorable Batman and one is the evil Joker! I’m simply making a point that if they married each other, they’d have to do some intense couples therapy.
Heated political and religious arguments can trigger the same emotions as a perpetual disagreement. Many have strong views on these issues that challenge our personal beliefs. Let’s say you were raised happily, in a loving family, and Catholicism was an important part of your upbringing. If someone challenges you and states that your religious values are all wrong and that your kids should be raised by their favored religion, that can create a firestorm. Our emotions behind these arguments are emblazed because they challenge the foundation of who we are.
Can a staunch Tea Party member have a successful relationship with a bleeding heart, liberal? Yes, if they can create an agreeable dialogue.
Vortex of the Perpetual Argument
The center of the vortex is the perpetual problem has not been dealt with well. Eventually, the disagreement becomes a gridlock fight that never gets resolved. The energy behind the resentment and anger grow, creating the vortex effect. No bueno!
Once an issue is at the vortex stage discussions are painful. Typically, one or more of the ‘four horsemen’ become present: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
An important mental note to make is that if you choose to switch partners, there will be a fresh set of perpetual disagreements to deal with. A couple that learns how to have an agreeable understanding will develop a stronger foundation upon which they can build a more valuable relationship.
Read my next blog post for tools on how to live more peacefully with these unsolvable disagreements.