Sometimes Unsolvable Problems Are Deal Breakers
“A deal breaker is any matter that would disqualify a partner from a committed relationship despite other wonderful conditions.” – Stan Tatkin, We Do
In example 5, Krista plans on having a baby at some point in her life but her partner Stacy isn’t ready and is unsure if she ever wants to become a parent. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to have kids or wanting to have kids, but this fundamental difference can lead to a lot of tension and challenges.
After discussing their dreams around this conversation, Kirsta and Stacy came to the harsh reality that they wanted different families. They cared for and loved each other a lot, but ultimately Krista decides that it was more important that she has kids, a lifelong dream of hers than to stick with the uncertainty that she might not have kids with Stacy.
This became a deal-breaker in the relationship, and Krista and Stacy maturely decided to separate.
Couples all over the world wrestle with problems that can be deal-breakers for the long-term of the relationship. This could be issues of trust, commitment, fidelity, family values, etc.
The number one thing I recommend to people who are dating is to decide to have deep conversations early on in the relationship. If this is you, I’d recommend buying Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love and go on every single date.
As you get to know your partner, work on accepting those differences and be honest with each other when you struggle. Sometimes being honest with each other and deciding to end things can save a lot of drama and emotional pain from sliding into a relationship with unrealistic hopes that things will change. Sometimes things do change, but most often they don’t.
Love requires hard choices and when you face those choices honestly and don’t abandon yourself, it’s easier to find or create a relationship that is deeply fulfilling and meaningful in the long-term.
1. Gottman, J. M., & Levenson, R.W. (1999). How stable is marital interaction over time? Family Process, 38,159–165. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.1999.00159.x ↩ 2. This is a classic and oversimplified difference. How we spend and save money is different in each category of our lives. I talk about this more here. ↩ 3. In the book The Couple Checkup, the authors talk about the five different parenting styles. 4. This comes from Dr. John Gottman’s book The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work. 5. Gottman, J. M. (1994). Why marriages succeed or fail. New York: Simon and Schuster 6. These questions are revised from The Dreams Within Intervention via The Gottman Method 7. This research was mentioned in the Level Two Training for The Gottman Method. 8. Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2006). Sliding vs. Deciding: Inertia and the premarital cohabitation effect. Family Relations, 55, 499-509. ↩ 9. I’m assuming that some people will have emotional reactions as this does not align with their relationship philosophy or blueprint. That is fine. And I hope you can allow others to determine what works for them, rather than judge them for choosing something different. Interestingly, research on attachment theory (how we relate to people in the world) indicates that individuals who are more secure are more accepting of people and communities who have different views and beliefs. This is also why secure romantic partners are more accepting of differences and tend to have less nasty conflict in relationships or use indirect communication tactics. Source: Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2001). Attachment theory and intergroup bias: Evidence that priming the secure base schema attenuates negative reactions to out-group. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1), 97–115. ↩
Written by Kyle Benson Originally appeared in Kyle Benson