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Busting Marriage Myths Series: Part 3

by John Thurman

Myth # 3 A Great Relationship Requires Great Problem-Solving Skills

Once again, in years of clinical experience and training, I was taught to help couple solve their problems-something at times I found nearly impossible to do. I remember how frustrated I would become an individual who didn’t get it; they wouldn’t try and solve their problems. The myth goes something like this: if you and your partner cannot learn to resolve your differences, you won’t have a good relationship because it will be riddled with conflict and confrontation.

One of the “deal changers” for me was when I begin reading Dr. John Gottman’s research. One of his enlightening findings was that up to 96% of what we fight about is what we fought about the first six months we were together. So his insight was don’t waste time on perceived unsolvable problems, instead work on some that are solvable.

Having been married for nearly fifty years and have spent over 53,000 hours with hurting and confused clients, I have come to believe that there are only two types of problems—the ones you can solve and those that will never be solved. The key to a good relationship can differentiate between the two.

Here are the signs of unresolved conflict:

  • The conflict makes you feel rejected by your partner.
  • You keep talking about it but make no headway anything changes.
  • You become entrenched in your positions and are unwilling to budge.
  • When you discuss the subject, you end up feeling more frustrated and hurt.
  • Your conversations about the problem are devoid of humor, amusement, or affection.
  • You become more unbudgeable over time, which leads to you vilify (demonize) each other during these “discussions.”

The vilification (demonization) process makes you more rooted in your position and polarized, more extreme in your view, and less willing to compromise. Eventually, you disengage from each other emotionally.


Related Articles

Busting Marriage Myths Series: Part 1

Busting Marriage Myths Series: Part 2

Optimism: Vital Part of Resilience 

Seven Secrets to Building Resilience in Your Marriage


John Thurman M.Div., M.A., is a Licensed Mental health Professional, Author, Speaker, and Certified Corporate Crisis Response Specialist who lives with his wife Angie in Albuquerque, NM. In addition, he is the Director of Covert Mercy Inc., a ministry that provides Stress Management Consulting and Training for ministry leaders and missionaries serving in the North Africa Middle East area. Learn more at JohnThurman.net

Reprinted with permission from John Thurman.


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