What kinds of problems are unfixable? Which problems can you fix?Think about the one fight that you and your partner always end up in, no matter how hard you try not to. You’ll likely continue having that fight, the research suggests. But, there are ways to lessen its intensity and find a deeper source of understanding. So, what types of issues are fixable? The Gottman Institute lists that solvable problems are situational ones. For instance, one partner is stuck with a heavier load of childcare or housecleaning than the other. Or, one partner’s parents come over unannounced every week. With problem-solving skills, these issues can be resolved.
Fixing is not always the best approach when it comes to love and relationships. But this doesn’t mean ignoring your issues or letting them fester, either.Perpetual problems can be fundamental differences in personality traits or differences in personal or lifestyle needs. To illustrate, one partner may need more time alone, and the other doesn’t understand why. Perpetual problems can also be an issue that’s longstanding and comes up repeatedly, such as financial habits or sexual frequency. It might be comforting to know that all couples have perpetual problems! When problems feel stuck, the Gottman Institute defines them as gridlocked perpetual problems, which are problems that, when approached, feel like the conversation is going nowhere and can come fraught with discomfort or intense feelings for each partner. “Every couple has two or three things that will likely never completely resolve in the course of their relationship. It doesn’t matter who you are with, there is going to be conflict and some issues will just never be worked out the way we hope. This means that for the rest of the relationship, these perpetual issues will likely exist and will have the potential to blow up and cause hurt feelings or resentment,” said Dana McNeil, PsyD, LMFT, Founder of the Relationship Place and Certified Gottman Therapist. Fixing is not always the best approach when it comes to love and relationships. But this doesn’t mean ignoring your issues or letting them fester, either. If the conflict does not need to be fixed, what should you do? McNeil explained, “When a partner decides to be vulnerable and share a ‘problem’ the response they want to receive is support, empathy, compassion, and connection with their emotions. Unless you hear your partner say to you: ‘What do you think I should do?’ you can assume they are not looking for you to instruct them on how to fix things. They are asking for you to stop doing, listen deeply, and hold space for their pain or confusion.”