I have heard a fascinating statistic that is encouraging to me: “The majority of conflicts couples deal with, approximately 69 percent, are irresolvable and will be with a couple in one form or another for the life of the marriage.”
Knowing that nearly 70 percent of the conflicts I have with my husband are irresolvable is supposed to be encouraging?
Here is why this truth is hopeful.
John Gottman, the author of “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” has been studying marriages for decades and says about these irresolvable conflicts;
“The reason they are irresolvable, or perpetual, is that no one is wrong concerning the issue. The issue they are disagreeing on is merely a matter of preference.”
No one is wrong. I like that part.
Traveling with my husband is a normal part of my marriage. But contrary to the popular assumption that women pack more than men, my husband packs more than I do. And it has been one of our “irresolvable differences.”
I must say that part of this difference in volume is that his shoes and most clothing items are bigger and heavier, so he does need a larger suitcase. However, that is not all there is to this picture. He is much more of an “I might need this” or “just in case” packer than I am.
In truth, he is genetically less organized than I am. When we travel by car, his preferred method of packing the vehicle is “just put it anywhere.” Random is his style … which is also why he often misplaces his keys, or favorite pen. A year ago, he lost his favorite Bible, which showed up after six months of looking and praying … under the seat of his truck.
Back to our suitcases.
I have learned to let him pack what he wants and how he wants — that is, until he asks the oft-repeated question, “Can I put these things in your suitcase?” Then I’m usually less than gracious. My suitcase is my space. I have it organized the way I want it, and his large shoes and extra gear for working out will mess with my system. I reason that if he would just think through what to take more efficiently like I do, then he wouldn’t need to use my space!
Who is right, and who is wrong? I can be wrong if and when I become angry at his legitimate question to use my extra space. And I have been wrong. But mostly it’s just a case of our differences showing up in a very common situation. Over time, he has learned to ask me less frequently for my space, knowing I can be offended. And I have learned to be more gracious and share, a lot like a two-year-old!
Learning to be at peace with irresolvable differences has been liberating. We have a saying in our house that has come from years of observing one another’s idiosyncrasies that says, “Different is not wrong; it’s just different.” Our methods of packing are really a matter of preference — an irresolvable difference — and we are okay with that.