When I’m counseling couples I always want to know how they manage conflict in their relationship. Couples come in all shapes and sizes. Yet there seem to be three basic interactional styles. There are three basic ways that couples manage conflict. Let’s find out which one you might be!
In no particular order, the three styles to manage conflict are:
1. Volatile: This is the high conflict, in-your-face, argumentative couple that fight all the time. They have higher energy, higher volume and higher passion in their expression.
2. Avoider: This couple will minimize conflict as much as possible. They will interact, just not about any subject that could prove to be contentious. They don’t believe in being openly angry.
3. Validator: I jokingly call this, the “therapized couple” which are the kind that newly licensed couples therapist seem to think are the “best” kind of couple to work with. They remain calm, listen, make sure that both sides are heard and appreciated as a way to manage conflict. They tend to search for the compromise.
So, which style of couple are you: Volatile, Avoider or Validator? And does it even matter?
The TRUTH according to the research of highly respected couples pioneer, John Gottman, Ph.D. is NO, it doesn’t matter! Gottman’s research indicates that couples of all three styles of conflict resolution are equally stable across time, provided that the couple has a ratio of positive to negative interactions of 5:1.
I can certainly vouch for this, as one of my daughter’s best friend’s parents have spent the last twenty years screaming at each other, getting out their frustrations and passions and have successfully raised three children and are still going strong.
What do you think about this? Please comment and let me know.
Thanks so much,
Dr. Adam Sheck
If you’re interested in more of my thoughts about relationships and creating passion and purpose, please download my Free Special Reports, “20 Rituals For Romance!” and “The Secret To Owning Your Mission!” by subscribing to the Passion Doctor Newsletter at the top of this page.