Some helpful questions to ask: 6
- Are there any core beliefs that you hold around your position on this topic?
- Is there a meaningful story behind this? Maybe something from your childhood or other past experiences?
- Why is this issue so important to you?
- What is your ideal dream here?
Note: Research on the Gottman Method indicates that about 20 percent of couples struggle with these questions by themselves because some people have given up on their dreams; others blame their partner and don’t take responsibility for not pursuing their own dreams.7 If this occurs for you, then find a Gottman Therapist who can support you in having this transformational conversation.
“Turning toward these perpetual issues with a strong change agenda, with a competitive stance, and from within a win-lose frame is the basis for the most destructive forms of relationship conflict.
On the other hand, turning toward these unavoidable flaws in the intimate relationship from a perspective of compassionate understanding, with an acceptance agenda, with a collaborative stance, and from within a we-are-both-in-this-together frame is the fundamental basis for a solid, long-term, healthy intimate relationship.” – James Cordova
Step 3: Decide If You Can Live With The Issue
The final step is determining whether your relationship problem is something you can live with. This is different for each person.
When it comes to committing to your relationship, researchers discovered that happier and more committed couples clearly decide their relationship path rather than slide into their relationship 8.
“Too many [couples] slide through major transitions or life experiences rather than deciding who they are and where they intend to go.” – Fighting for Your Marriage
Far too often, couples make life-altering decisions with positive intent but without fully thinking them through. For example, Grant married Julie even though she made a few statements before marriage that she didn’t want kids. He assumed after marriage her mind would change. It didn’t.
In example 3, Janice loves her partner Steve very much and she always found herself wanting to be emotionally close and intimate with multiple people her whole life. As polyamory became more acceptable in the Seattle culture early in their relationship, Janice opened the conversation with Steve. Because Janice was ethical, she had not cheated or taken any steps to fulfill her longings for connections from multiple people prior to this.
During a “dreams within” conversation, she described how she experiences different parts of herself with different people and how she cherishes the novelty and variety of emotional connection.
Steve was not okay with this and it appeared to be a dealbreaker. His dream was to have a monogamous relationship. Janice and Steve’s relationship preferences were at odds with each other. They were kind and loving with each other and this fundamental difference caused them to decide whether to stay together or not.
After lots of thinking and taking space to reflect, Steve decided that he could live with Janice being non-monogamous if she could live with him being monogamous. Some people might say this is unfair, but it was something that Steve and Janice decided was going to work for them. After all, it is their relationship, so they get to decide what that looks like.
Even five years later, Steve and Janice still have an ethically monogamish relationship as they like to call it. They are both satisfied and have an ongoing conversation to make sure the relationship works for both of them 9.
When it comes to the core issues of love relationships, you need to talk about these things and decide if they are deal-breakers before you fully commit to your relationship.