Do you and your partner have issues of which you have not been able to find a compromise?

Does it feel like talking makes the situation worse?

Does this conflict make you feel rejected by your partner?

When you talk about it tempers flare, and you both end up hurting each other.

Have you noticed that over time you have become more rigid in your position and are emotionally disengaged from your partner?

If you are experiencing most or all of the above in your marriage, the good news is that neither you nor your partner is the \’bad guy\’, you have a gridlock conflict.

Research tells us that not every conflict in a marriage/relationship is solvable, 69% are not solvable; they would last the lifetime of the marriage; they are perpetual problems, but they do not have to affect your marriage negatively.

Gridlock conflicts are often perpetual problems the couple has not been able to manage. According to John Gottman’s research, most gridlock conflict results when partner’s do not honour, accept or respect each other’s dreams in the area of the conflict. It happens primarily because the partners are not aware of this dream(s) or do not want to acknowledge it.

Dreams are an essential part of who we are and are at the core of our identity. They help shape our outlook on life and give our lives meaning and purpose.

A person’s dreams would reflect in the following ways; a desire to have a specified minimum deposit in the bank or to save regularly, to raise a child or children in a certain way, carry out specific disciplinary measures for a child’s misbehaviour, own a house in a particular part of town or never wanting to own a home, and so on.

These are all practical expression of a hidden dream; they are not the dream(s). Answering the question \’for what purpose do I want..?.\’ Would begin to reveal the secret goals behind the need or request.

 Sometimes the person may not be aware on a conscious level of what the dream is, but it keeps showing up in the kinds of decision and actions the person is willing and happy to make.

When couples have a conflict where no one is ready or willing to compromise, the best line of action is for the couple to take a step back, listen to each other and seek to understand the underlining dream(s) not honoured.

– Identify the dream behind the gridlocked conflict that you may have ignored or repressed.

– Give each other time to think about their wish and aspiration lying beneath the surface; resolving these issues must not be immediate.

– Explain your position on the problem without blaming or criticising your partner.

– If tempers begin to rise during the discussion, take a break (minimum of 25mins) to self soothe and then return to the conversation as soon as possible.

– Understand and accept that not all conflicts are resolvable, the goal here is to remove the hurt, so the problem stops being a source of pain by;

1) Communicating the areas, you cannot yield

2) Indicating the areas, you are flexible about

3) Come up with a temporary solution that honours both dreams, which could be revisited and changed from time to time

Nancy Oblete

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