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In a recent blog post, we shared an overview of how to understand gridlock (and make it better). We followed that up by sharing two real-world examples of gridlock from our own practice.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at what the Gottmans call dreams within conflict.

The couples we work with are sometimes surprised — and sometimes not so surprised — to discover that buried deep under their resentment and hurt is a dream that needs tending to.

Research from the Gottmans shows that “most relationship conflict (especially gridlocked conflict) finds its roots in unfulfilled dreams. These are feelings of frustration and resentment that partners feel towards one another when their hopes and goals for the future are not being respected or honored.”

If you and your partner think there may be an unfulfilled dream at the root of your gridlocked conflict, there is hope!

Dreams within conflict can be used as a tool to improve your relationship and manage the gridlock in healthy, life-giving ways.

To begin discussing your dreams within conflict, both you and your partner need to agree to the following:

  1. Decide that you can set aside persuasion — and don’t have to convince one another of anything
  2. Share your heart and be vulnerable (it can feel risky to share the true inner desires of your heart in this area; that’s normal)
  3. Set up the conversation with some parameters; promise to be non-judgmental about the things that each of you share
  4. Commit to set aside preconceived ideas (both yours and your partner’s)
  5. Do everything you can to make them feel safe enough to open up and share their very vulnerable thoughts; suspend any judgment that would cause your partner to shut down or not feel cared for 

When left unaddressed, gridlock can lead to separation and divorce, but it doesn’t have to. If you’d like professional guidance in exploring your dreams within conflict, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced, dedicated team of therapists.
Get in touch today.

In the meantime, as we’ve said before, remember to work to discover what you and your partner can be flexible about. Celebrate all the things you can agree about.

That sort of common ground is a wonderful antidote to resentment and hurt, and it can help pave a way for you and your partner to navigate gridlock and get to a better place in your relationship — together.