Arriving at mutually gratifying solutions to problems can be a challenging experience for couples.
Even simple conversations can become problems when the skills for listening carefully are not developed adequately. Learning to value understanding over insistence upon being understood can be huge but necessary step.
When things begin to go wrong, communications become win/lose battles for power and control. The danger for this pattern of communication means one person believes that they have convinced the other of their argument. Just because the other person has stopped arguing for their position, however, it does not necessarily mean that they have been persuaded; they just stopped arguing.
Sometimes the negotiations lead to each partner agreeing to compromise where each person giving up something in order to end the struggle. There are times when agreeing to disagree helps life go forward. The hope is that we will return to the topic to flesh out more details and come to a point of resolution. Too much compromise in a relationship, however, keeps couples from experiencing the joy that comes with getting on the same page together.
Enough win/lose and compromise over time can lead to ‘the silent treatment’ because the goal becomes the cessation of hostilities instead of working through conflict. The silent, conflict-avoiding ‘resolution’ patterns can lead to ticking time bombs.
The goal is to learn the needed skills for developing win/win scenarios and being willing to expend the energy to make it happen. Marriage and Family Therapists are specially trained to help couples learn, practice and implement these special skills. This is one of those aspects of relating that, when practiced as a lifestyle, can generalize to satisfying scenarios in other relationships as well.