Scenario #1: Time
Joseph walks in the door and Letitia immediately starts telling him about her day and asking him questions about family plans. “Why can’t she give me some peace and quiet when I get home?” he later grouses to his friends.
Scenario #2: Space
Over dinner Betsy asks Paul where her library books are, that she had placed by the back door. When he tells her he needed to put something down there and moved them, she replies, “I had them there to remind me to return them on the way to work. Now they are overdue and we have a fine.”
Scenario #3: Money
Fred is balancing the family credit card statement and asks his domestic partner, Ross, about one of the charges. Ross responds he took his sister out for a birthday lunch. Fred replies, “Did you have to go to such an expensive place? We’re not going to have enough saved up for our vacation if you spend money at this rate.”
Do you identify with any of these scenarios?
They are examples of common areas of conflict between couples. They arise from core differences (I’ll talk about that in another post).
If any of these or related issues keep coming up with you and your mate, most likely you just want to figure out how to get past them. Repeating problems – where the same issue arises again and again in a relationship – can resist our best efforts to resolve them.
Yours, Mine, Ours
One approach that is helpful to some of the couples I work with is “Yours, Mine, Ours”. Every couple needs to figure out what’s mine, what’s yours, and what’s ours.
People create a couple relationship when they want to share important parts of their life with another. Just as importantly, everyone needs some privacy in their life. We all need to have things that are just for us alone. The question then becomes, what things and to what extent are they shared versus private.
You might have guessed from the above scenarios, that three major things that can be considered from a “Yours, Mine, Ours” standpoint are time, space, and money. These are some of the biggest areas of life and no surprise that they are often argued about between couples.
Respect Differences, Negotiate a Solution
Of course, “the devil is in the details” as they say. Negotiating and respecting both your and your partner’s needs can take several experiments followed by honest discussion. Remember, each of us is the way we are for legitimate reasons – there’s almost no right or wrong involved; just two people who love each other and happen to have different ways of maintaining emotional and lifestyle comfort. You can download my chart (below) and give it a try.
Looking back over your relationship history (and not just romantic relationships, but any of them) can you remember a time when this factor played out? What happened, and what might you do differently today?
Click here for a worksheet you and your partner can use to discuss where you’re doing well and where/how you might improve your relationship.