A wise person once said, “Hidden resentments poison a relationship. So if something bothers you, say it.” The Gottmans take an even more nuanced view of hidden resentments: under that conflict, there is most likely a hidden dream.
Most conflicts in relationships are perpetual (in fact, a whopping 69% keep coming up again and again). Some of those perpetual problems can become gridlocked in your relationship. You and your partner can’t seem to find a way to move forward together. Feelings begin to really get hurt. Does that sound like you?
One couple shared with us a fight they had been having for years about money. The man would often hide some of his earnings from his wife, and this would infuriate her. His behavior made her feel betrayed and unloved, and distrust grew to a point of contempt. (Contempt, by the way, is the worst, most destructive emotion in relationships!)
But through the use of a tool called Dreams Within Conflict she was able to hear a story from his childhood he’d never told before: he came from a large family, and as a kid, his siblings used to steal his earnings from his lawn mowing job. He constantly had to be on the lookout for better and better hiding places for his money. To make matters worse, his parents didn’t have his back; in fact, they made him feel selfish for not sharing his hard-earned money with his brothers and sisters.
What this man really dreamed of was having a trusting, loving relationship that felt like a partnership. To get there, he needed his wife to understand how hard it was for him to be transparent and vulnerable around money, especially when she was so angry with him.
Together, using a tool that the Gottmans call Dreams Within Conflict, they were able to reach a financial compromise that worked for them both.
At the Art and Science of Love, Dreams Within Conflict is just one of the tools you will learn. It’s a great one to have in your toolbox when you and your partner come up against one of those gridlocked perpetual conflicts.
We all want to move through conflict well. You can, too. Learn how at the Art and Science of Love.
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