Are you and a spouse or partner rehashing the same old arguments?

As human beings, we all have certain wants and needs and when these things aren’t being fulfilled or met, we tend to feel unbalanced. For married couples, a spouse who feels unbalanced may, on some level, blame his or her wife or husband. Regardless of how different couples and spouses can be, all married couples argue and, according to marriage and family counselor and researcher Dr. John Gottman, the topics of these arguments tend to be similar.

In his 40 years of studying and researching marriage and the relationships between spouses, Gottman estimates that nearly 70 percent of the arguments in which married couples engage remain unresolved. Why do they remain unresolved? According to Gottman, most married couples don’t argue effectively and, consequently, end up rehashing the same issues over and over again.

Gottman notes that money, housework, sex, extended family and free time are all common issues that married couples tend to argue about most. From a wife who argues she’s saddled with the majority of domestic-related duties and feels unappreciated to a husband who desperately craves alone time with his wife, it’s often these types of underlying issues and the accompanying feelings of resentment, rejection and anger that fuel these cyclical and ineffective arguments.

Being able to effectively and openly communicate is key to understanding and strengthening any relationship. Spouses must, therefore, be willing and open to changing how they approach and view the issues that often spark arguments. For most spouses, this means doing a lot more listening than speaking and learning to respect and accept a spouse’s opinions rather than react and become defensive.

Every marriage and relationship is a work in progress and goes through many ups and downs. In some cases, regardless of best intentions, a couple may not be able to overcome and resolve marital conflicts and may choose instead to divorce. 

Source: Huffington Post, “Why Couples Fight: The Top 5 Issues,” Vanessa Van Edwards, June 18, 2015

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