The way couples tackle problems reveals a lot about their relationship. Working together to constructively solve problems reduces stress and increases the strength of the marriage. Developing good problem-solving skills helps couples decide how to respond to problems together.
Everyone solves problems on a daily basis, yet we rarely stop to consider how we arrived at the solution. Problems couples encounter include minor inconveniences, such as a missing pair of car keys, to major problems such as facing foreclosure or bankruptcy. Take notice of how you have solved some recent problems together. Do you tend to ignore problems? Does one person typically do all the problem-solving? Do you seek advice from extended family or friends? Or do you talk about problems and form solutions together?
A good first step to solving any problem is defining the problem. This step can help clarify the issue. Perhaps you and your partner have been arguing about money and you think the problem is that your partner spends too much. Your partner thinks the problem is that you do not work enough. Discussing this can help you to develop common ground to define the problem as “we are not able to pay the bills this month.” Once the problem is defined, you can both take responsibility for your part of the problem and work on developing solutions together.
Once the problem is defined, brainstorm possible solutions. Most problems have many possible solutions. Taking time to think of several ideas can help develop creative solutions.
Once you have a list of potential solutions, develop a list of the pors and cons of each one. Thinking ahead about potential consequences helps couples plan ahead. Discuss your concerns about each options.
After a thorough discussion, decide which option to pick. If you disagree on the best solution, don’t give up. Continue discussing the options. Listen to your partner’s concerns. If it is a problem that can wait, agree to keep thinking about the options. If your first solution does not work out the way you had hoped, try another option. Re-visiting potential solutions and establishing a new plan can lead to a solution.
Working together to solve problems can help couples develop creative opportunities. Difficulties working together as a team causes arguments and resentment. Couples struggling to solve problems together can seek therapy to help improve their problem-solving skills.