Most couples within a long-term relationship will be able to list at least one perpetual problem to which they seem to never find a solution. There is usually an ‘underlying current’ streaming below the relationship that is the basis for the conflicts.

For example, one partner feels that there is an inherent personality trait in their partner that is beyond repair. Quite often, each partner has a very narrow view of both themselves and their partner.

Each person becomes very self-centered and focused on how their partner made them feel in the event of a regrettable incident.

Instead, a highly productive endeavor would be for the individual partners to step in front of a mirror and begin to look at their own quirky ‘personality traits’, poor communication patterns, and perspectives. Perhaps one partner’s view of the perpetual problem has become very narrowed throughout the relationship. This endeavor would remove the blame towards the partner and encourage self-reflection.

As a therapist, I have the 30, 000 view from above. When I conduct the work of John and Julie Gottman as a trained Gottman therapist, I often use a technique called Dreams Within Conflict. This technique works beautifully as a means of helping one partner see the other partner’s perspective and in doing so, places less blame on their partner through a deeper understanding of their partner. It teaches each partner to become more curious and less critical towards their partner. Sometimes it is easier for one partner to do this than another, and I often conduct individual sessions in those instances. I often do this so I get a deeper understanding of how they think, and make sense of their behaviour.

I remember a call with a woman who kept telling me what her partner has done and what he will be doing in the next day, week, etc.- how he thinks and how he will behave. I needed to remind her that if you continue to perceive your partner as this mean, defensive, unreasonable person, then he will be exactly that person. I encouraged her to look deeper inside of him and yourself and see that there is a more loving part of that person. This is the person you saw the first time you met your partner. He is still there. Look at your partner with that lens and check in with your belief system. Stay true to your long-term vision. Revisit your values and remind yourself that he likely has similar values, and that is why you connected.

Those values are still there.

Finally, by perseverating on negativity, your life will reflect negativity. With the proper guidance and course correction, a good therapist will help you do the self-check-in towards negative thought loops, which is what the Gottman’s call a negative sentiment override malingering over the relationship.  

To create a romantic and deeply connecting relationship, it helps shine the light on the one individual’s patterns of thought so that each can take the focus off their partner’s flaws, and remind each other that by growing inwardly, your relationship will grow outwardly.