Better Problem Solving For Couples

Problems are a normal part of life.  How couples handle their problems can lead to relationship growth or deterioration.

Research has shown that successful relationships are not those that necessarily have fewer problems, but those that have found effective means of solving the problems that arise.  Here are two suggestions that can help you and your partner approach problems in a more positive and constructive way and result in a stronger and more satisfying relationship for you and your partner.

  1. Approach Problems as a Team

According to researchers who study marriage and relationships, couples who view themselves as being on the same team are better able to resolve conflicts than those who don’t.  “We” couples aim to resolve problems for the good of their relationship, not to “win” the argument.

How do you and your partner approach conflict in your relationship?  Does it typically become a competition where you fight to prove that you are right, beat your opponent and “win” the argument?  The truth is when one partner “wins” the fight, the other person loses – and resentment builds and intimacy is lost.  In effect, both partners have then lost because the relationship has been damaged.

If you and your partner are experiencing a conflict now – or before the next issue arises – make a commitment to each other to be on the same team to resolve the issue.  Your goal shouldn’t be to win the argument but to strengthen the relationship.  Think about your partner’s needs as well as your own.  Work together to problem solve and brainstorm possible solutions.  By working together – instead of against each other – you will have a real chance of finding a solution that is acceptable to both of you.

  1. Seek Understanding First

According to marital research from the Gottman Institute, over two-thirds of the disagreements that couples have are perpetual – 69% of couples’ conflicts end in stalemates.  However, according to the researchers, you don’t have to resolve your differences to have a satisfying, lasting relationship.  You do, however, have to gain a mutual understanding about the problem. Therefore, it is imperative that you and your partner learn how to approach your issues so that you can come to a place of mutual understanding.

Try this perspective to help put you on the path toward mutual understanding.  Start with a two-person focus.  The two-person focus means that you keep in mind your needs and your partner’s needs, as opposed to focusing only on yourself and your needs.  Having a two-person focus means you have to care about your partner’s feelings, interests, needs, desires and preferences, as well as your own.

Better Problem Solving For Couples – Summary

By using a team approach and striving to seek a mutual understanding about the problem, you and your partner can learn how to resolve your differences more effectively and, in fact, grow stronger and closer by solving them together.


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