This lesson is about picking your battles, choosing when to get into a conflict, and when to opt-out. Battles are inevitable but not necessarily always necessary.
On our wedding day, the person marrying us gave us this piece of advice that has helped us enormously over the years. He told us to pick our battles. He said that relationships are stressful, balancing each other's needs and wants, and sometimes it just isn't worth adding tension when something really isn't important and an issue you can easily give way on without causing too much disruption in your own life. It is about to give and take.
Bob Levenson, who I mentioned earlier in reference to the part our DNA plays in our relationship, did much research into relationships. One of his most interesting findings, I think, was that 69% of the couple's problems are repeated. They are those fights that go round and round and never resolve. So if you have these, and we certainly do. On a mundane level, my husband and I just disagree about how to load the washing machine; it is sometimes better just to let them go. Some issues in relationships will never be resolved. So can you let them go, and if not, why not. Does it serve to keep fighting about them? Sometimes couples repeatedly bring up mistakes or problems that happened in the past, the past can not be changed. People love to hang on to their hurts and throw them into the battleground when necessary. And sometimes, this can ultimately destroy a marriage. Fights can start small, and then all the unresolved issues are brought up again, and soon enough, you have an earthquake on your hands.
Becoming aware and communicating when the climate is mild about those unresolvable issues takes the energy out of them. You don't have to avoid them. But if you are able to accept the past never changes, there are some things that will remain the same, then perhaps some of that 69% can be relieved. As the less fights needed, the less tension and stress and build up resentment will occur.
A common battle is finances, who brought what into the marriage, which brings in the money, how it is spent etc. There are the continued fights about different parenting styles. One parent is commonly less disciplining than the other, or one parent will undermine the other in front of the child. Maybe one partner spends too much time out of the home or doesn't take shared responsibility for the chores.
If you are currently in a relationship, what are 69% of your fights all about, and how do you think it would change your relationship if you were able to resolve these?
So in the next lesson, we are going to look at how important it is to be an individual in a relationship.