Not this again! Can’t you just drop it... (DW#428)

Today’s phrase is another variation of blaming the other person for issues in the relationship. 

"Not this again!" can be said in many ways:
"Oh no, here we go again" - eye roll and heavy sigh included –
"You never let anything drop, do you?"
"Why do you make such a big deal about things that are not important?"
etc. etc. etc.


The message in each version is similar:


"Something is wrong with you that you cannot drop this issue – you have no grounds to be upset. I don’t see it as a big deal, I don’t respect what you have to say and I’m not willing to listen, communicate with you or change in any way. This issue is not important to me even though it matters to you. The problem is clearly you and not me".


As you can imagine, this message is more likely to damage the relationship rather than make the issue go away. It is likely to add fuel to the fire as when we are upset, we want to be listened to and heard, not told that we are ridiculous for being upset.


To put it in perspective, our favourite relationship expert and researcher has found that it is very common for couples to struggle with repeated conflict over the same problems. According to him, most relationships have some "perpetual problems" - problems that are present through the life of the relationship and give rise to recurring conflict.


Dr. Gottman finds that ‘masters of relationships’ also have these problems in their marriage. The difference is that they deal with them differently than the ‘disasters of relationships’.


So instead of convincing your spouse to drop the issue, it is more helpful to switch gears and try a version of the following:


"This is clearly important to you. Help me understand how this issue is related to your hopes, aspirations and life goals".


"I know we keep struggling with this issue. Tell me again why it matters so much".


"Even though we don’t agree on this, let’s try and understand each other better. We are a team and this is an issue in our relationship, not a problem with you or me".


"Tell me more about how you feel and why you are so upset. I want to understand. Let’s try to figure this out together. We are a team.

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