What’s the Difference between Solvable & Perpetual Problems?
Solvable vs. Perpetual Problems. What type of problem do you have in your relationship? Do these examples sound familiar?
So your spouse forgot about Valentine’s Day again? That is a problem for sure. Is it a deal-breaker though? You know that they are going to forget it because it happens every year, so you’re prepared for their sad attempt to make it up the weekend after with wilted roses and a dinner at your 2nd favorite restaurant.
What if your partner doesn’t want to get married? That may be a deal-breaker. You may value the union that is marriage, while they never see themselves becoming tied down. That isn’t a problem that is solved very easily.
Let’s clearly define what the difference between the two are…
- Solvable Problems: aspects or behaviors of your partner that are difficult to handle, but tolerable. There are usually reachable solutions or compromises that can be made for these types of problems.
- Perpetual Problems: values your partner holds that may be intolerable or in opposition to your own values or beliefs. Things that you may have to “bend” on in order to stay happy in your relationship. These types of problems will always be present in your relationship.
You may go into therapy knowing that there is a problem in your relationship, but you may not know whether it is a solvable or perpetual one. This is an important part of the therapeutic process. Realizing what type of problem you are working to solve will allow you to figure out with your therapist the steps necessary to either solve said problem or learn to live with it.
Using simple tools such as “I Statements”, “Repair Attempts”, or deep breathing can all be ways of approaching solvable problems. See the list below for some tips and tricks on how to handle solvable problems in your relationship.
If any of these approaches do not seem like enough when it comes to a problem between yourself and your partner, you may have a perpetual problem. This problem is most likely best suited for therapy. Going to couples therapy can be a great place for solvable or perpetual problems because it allows for a neutral space to practice the skills necessary to manage the problem at hand. Going into therapy with an open mind and open heart can be the defining factor in whether solutions are found.
What solvable or perpetual problems have you been able to manage in the past?