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Managing Conflict

Unfortunately, the belief that conflict resolution skills will be effective in helping you manage differences in your relationship or marriage is a myth.  Why?  Trying to resolve an area of disgreement with your partner or spouse is going to fail 69% of the time.

One of the surprising findings from Dr. John Gottman's decades of research is that 69% of the time couples are disagreeing about issues that cannot be resolved because they are perpetual in nature.  Perpetual problems generally emerge because of differences in your personalities or needs that are core to who you are as a person.  What makes it feel impossible to compromise when dealing with a perpetual issue is that your position on the issue is a reflection of your core values, beliefs, needs or personality.

Money is the most common perpetual issue among married couples.  While couples are frequently faced with making financial decisions that  on the surface seem "resolvable", there is often deeper meaning underneath discussions about finances.  Most individuals have farily strong beliefs about power, control, status, and securitythat influence their positions about money.  Sex and communication are the other most common perpetual issues in relationships (Notarius and Markman, 1993). 

Perpetual or Resolvable Issue?

Perpetual Issues: 

  • Come up over and over again
  • Never feels like you make any progress even though you keep talking about the issue
  • Discussions usually leave you feeling frustrated, misunderstood, unheard, hurt or rejected
  • You are more interested in proving why you are right than listening to your partner
Resolvable Issues:

  • Relatively simple issues with no hidden meaning
  • Situational
  • Don't cause alot of tension

How do you successfully cope with perpetual issues?

Gottman found that couples who are able to talk about their perpetual issues in a way that leaves each spouse feeling accepted and respected are far more likely to remain satisfied with their marriages.   While spouses may never agree or even like the other's position in regard to a perpetual issue, marriages are successful to the degree that the two of you can cope with those issues that you will disagree about most of the time.

For more information on managing conflict, refer to Gottman's books on marriage and relationships.  Couples Counseling often focuses on helping couples learn how to talk about their perpetual issues contstructively and calmly.  Both of our Couples Workshops also focus on teaching the skills to help you manage your perpetual and resolvable issues.

Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Orange Park, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Fernandina Beach, Keystone Heights, Amelia Island, Palm Coast, Nocatee, Yulee, Green Cove Springs, St. Marys, Palm Coast

We provide marriage counseling, relationship therapy, couples counseling, premarital counseling, couples workshops, individual counseling, and help with divorce and single parenting.