What to Do When You and Your Partner Can’t Agree

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You like talking about certain topics that he considers a waste of time. You want to move to the country; he likes living in the city. You’re a saver; he’s a spender. He likes to blast hard rock music in the house; you like soft country. Do you and your sweetie disagree over certain issues and preferences that bug you or him or both of you, with no resolution in sight?

Some disagreements seem unsolvable. You’re hesitant to bring up touchy subjects because you each seem to react in the same predictable way. Tempers may flare or one or both of you sulk and shut down when those subjects come up. Yet nothing gets accomplished other than you feel there’s a barrier rising between you.

The closeness and connectedness you used to feel with your partner are eroding as time passes. Is the relationship doomed because of fundamental differences of opinions, preferences, habits, beliefs or is there a way to live in harmony with the disharmony rather than “butt heads” when you can’t agree?

 

Communicating, Articulating, Contemplating

·         Don’t sweep it under the rug where issues seem larger and more serious than they would be if you had a heart-to-heart discussion about it. Pretending it doesn’t exist can do more harm and manifest in ways you don’t expect.

·         Revisit the issue after a bit of time has passed. Maybe the next time you’ll achieve more understanding and acceptance.

·         Be open-minded. Try to see the issue from their point of view and understand why it upsets your partner and yourself.

·         Try making peace or come to accept that you can’t agree. You each have a right to your opinions and beliefs. We each have different life experiences and desires. No matter who we’re in a relationship with, there will always be reoccurring matters you don’t see eye-to-eye on.

·         If it’s a touchy subject, ask questions in a non-judgmental way to better understand how your sweetie feels deep down about the subject, the history behind it. Maybe you’ll discover something you hadn’t realized and can work on a resolution or compromise based on a new perspective.

·         Or the reverse: open your heart and explain to him why you do the thing that he doesn’t like and what it means to you.

·         Make a list of your unresolved conflicts. Explain why you feel the way you do about each item and how you think your partner feels about each item. Ask your partner to do the same. Then compare lists. Sometimes writing it out rather than talking about it takes the discussion to new levels.

·         Ask yourself if you can come to a compromise on any unresolvable conflicts and if it could result in a happier relationship without the looming “elephant in the room.”

·         Don’t try to change your partner’s feelings about an issue. It’s up to them if and when they want to change, and vice versa.

·         Is the disagreement part of your core values? Is it a deal-breaker to living in harmony with your partner? It’s a hard question to ask yourself, but you should determine this early on in the relationship.

·         Seek the help of a couples therapist. Talking with a trained specialist may uncover blind spots, create more clarity, prompt you to address the problem head on, and show one another the level of concern and willingness to come to resolution or acceptance.

 

Communicating about unresolved conflicts is always the better option than staying silent. Talking opens the heart to empathy and affection. When you and your partner openly discuss what continues to bother you, you are expressing your needs and wants, showing your partner that a subject truly upsets or concerns you or has special meaning for you. In this way, the subject is also less likely to erupt into a fight. Instead of a heated argument, you are building a bridge to better understanding and commitment to one another.