Doc: Find Middle Ground Or Risk Alienating A Significant OtherBy Kristine Johnson

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Freezing temperatures can lead to another problem known as the “thermostat tug of war.”

You know how it goes: you feel cold, but your spouse says it’s too hot in the house.

Experts say how you handle this little disagreement can be a barometer of the state of your relationship, reports CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson.

Mike and Peggy Early have been married 34 years. They’re happy — until they start talking temperature.

“Wintertime I’m perfectly content to have four layers on and have it set lower,” Peggy said.

“I don’t like that. I want to be comfortable. I’m not comfortable walking around all bundled up,” Mike added.

And the disagreement doesn’t end there.

“This one likes to have it to set down on what, 65, ’til I come home, and then I turn it up, ’til he realizes that, and he turns it back down,” Peggy said.

It’s a scenario that probably sounds familiar.

“Ugh, my husband keeps it cool and I like it warm. It’s always been an issue,” said Chris Rosenblum of Stamford, Conn.

“I wear long underwear as often as possible,” said Valerie D’Antonio of Hoboken, N.J.

Marriage and family therapist Dr. Jane Greer says it’s as common as the fight over the remote control, but just as destructive as any big relationship issue.

“Money, in-laws, sex, children, household responsibilities,” Greer said.

Greer says the thermostat — like the remote — is really a metaphor representing control.

“If somebody is the controller, if they are always setting the controls and the temperature being what they want, without considering their partner, that’s a relationship that’s out of balance and that is eventually going to have to resolve all the anger and resentment that’s going to go along with it,” Greer said.

“It’s a little disturbing because it always seems to go his way,” Rosenblum said.

“Um, I don’t know. You just have to go with it and hang in there,” said Shawn Web of Queens.

Greer says often one person feels like they must give in to the other to avoid an argument or a cold war, and this can lead to resentment in and out of the bedroom.

“You want to have a winning conversation with your partner, acknowledge how they feel, consider their feelings and empathize with them,” Greer said.

Greer says you can show you care by coming up with a compromise. In this case it may simply require that you layer or shed, depending on your comfort needs. At the very least — as a couple — you need to acknowledge your differences and try not to be so selfish.

“It will make all the difference in the world,” Greer said.

“That’s pretty much true,” Mike Early said.

Therapists say this advice works for arguments about other things big and small.

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