John Gottman, famous marriage researcher, identified two types of problems in long-term relationships: solvable problems and perpetual problems. Solvable problems are exactly that: problems a couple can solve when they come up. For example, it can be whose family do we spend Thanksgiving with this year, or how should we spend the tax refund, or how do we help our child do better in school. The couple can work together to decide on a solution. Perpetual problems are those problems that always reappear whenever that particular subject or issue arises. They can be whose family do we spend Thanksgiving with this year, or how should we spend the tax refund, or how do we help our child do better in school. (See what I did there?)
Gottman's research shows that 69% of marital problems are perpetual problems. Let that sink in a minute. What a bummer. For many couples who come to my office this is a tough reality to accept especially when the perpetual problem is sex. Hopelessness is a common reaction.
But it doesn't have to be this way. With patience, perpetual problems can teach us more about ourselves and help us grow...that is, if we're willing to stretch ourselves psychologically, relationally, and sexually.
Here's a blog from The Gottman Institute that's a primer on how to cope with your relationship's perpetual problems.
I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist located in Sonoma county, California.