My Boyfriend And I Can't Resolve Important Issues Together

Over the years (and several relationships), I’ve always found comfort in your blogs; thank you for that. I will try to make this brief. I have been dating someone for a little over a year, and there is this unexplained connection we have to each other. We have the same interests, same values, we make each other laugh. We have very early on determined that we are going to marry each other.

The problem lies in our expectations of the logistics or norms of relationships, like how often to have sex, how frequently to talk to each other while we’re doing a “middle distance” relationship, when to get engaged, etc. We have found that we have different conflict resolution styles (mine is to discuss and his, in his own words, is to avoid).

Ultimately, we have had numerous discussions on if these are merely logistical issues that can be resolved with appropriate conflict resolution tools or if we are simply just too incompatible. How do we handle conflicts when our methods of resolving are so far apart? Appreciate any advice based on your experience.

Kim

Kim,

I don’t know how old you are, I don’t know where you live, I don’t know anything about you other than what you just wrote to me. Maybe it doesn’t even matter.

I do know that you have two massive blind spots that we need to shine the light upon.

First: “We have very early on determined that we are going to marry each other.”

Huh? I mean, I know you feel this way, but I have to question the wisdom of someone who has determined she’s going to marry someone before she has determined whether she’s compatible with him.

Wise people don’t make decisions first and ask questions later. They ask questions first and make decisions based on that information.

It’s like determining that you’re going to jump in the next pool you see, before asking whether there is, in fact, water in the pool. Or whether you’re 50 feet above the pool. Or whether the pool is frozen. Wise people don’t make decisions first and ask questions later. They ask questions first and make decisions based on that information.

So even though you come by your “you just know” feeling with your boyfriend quite honestly, “just knowing” that you think a guy is your soulmate is not a real reason to get married.

I even made a half-hour free video about the deception of passion that you can view here.

Second: “We have the same interests, same values, we make each other laugh.”

So what? I have met hundreds – maybe even thousands – of people in my life: kind, relationship-oriented people who enjoy reading, sports, and comedy, and I wouldn’t be remotely compatible with ANY of them.

Because compatibility is not based on laughter or similar hobbies. It’s based on healthy communication and the ability to navigate 100 tiny decisions a day as part of a team. People who can do this are happily married. People who don’t? Well they sound something like this:

“The problem lies in our expectations of the logistics or norms of relationships, like how often to have sex, how frequently to talk to each other while we’re doing a “middle distance” relationship, when to get engaged, etc. We have found that we have different conflict resolution styles (mine is to discuss and his, in his own words, is to avoid).”

Compatibility is not based on laughter or similar hobbies. It’s based on healthy communication and the ability to navigate 100 tiny decisions a day as part of a team.

I am certainly not suggesting that you’re blameless. Maybe your way of communicating is to attack, blame, misinterpret, nag, or yell. But if you are a healthy communicator – and can let him know how you feel and how to please you without making him wrong – and his default setting is to shut down, walk away, or avoid conversation, then you have simply chosen a man who is incapable of being a husband. Doesn’t mean he’s evil. Doesn’t mean you don’t genuinely love him. All it means, objectively, is that he doesn’t possess the skill set – or the desire to develop the skill set – to be a good relationship partner.

I am not judging him as a person, nor judging you for falling for him. But in good relationships, people are not only willing to talk about stuff, but they are able to somewhat easily get on the same page. If you have that much friction when negotiating your relationship, then I would suggest what is patently obvious: you really don’t have the same values after all.

Find a guy who you CAN discuss important things easily and you won’t worry too much about whether you have the same interests, I assure you.