Dealing with Conflict in Marriage: Four Types of Couples
Couples perceptions, thoughts, values, and feelings influence how they interpret conflict situations, and can strongly shape the outcomes of conflicts. However, the three elements of conflict, issue, relationship, and emotion, must be dealt with if the conflict is to be resolved. The way that couples respond to interpersonal conflicts could either be constructive or destructive to their relationships. *** The 5 to 1 Ratio in Marriage Conflicts
According to John Gottman, marriage relationship researcher, negative interactions are balanced by positive ones in stable marriages. The dynamics of the balance between negativity and positivity are what separate contented couples from discontented ones..... In stable marriages, there is a very specific ratio, 5 to 1, between the amount of positive feelings and interactions and negative interactions.
In contrast, couples who are likely to divorce, have too little positive interactions to compensate for the for the rising negativity in their marriages.
According to Gottman , positivity must outweigh negativity 5 to 1, whether couples have intense fights or avoid conflicts completely. There are successful adjustments in these marriages that keep the couples together. Low level of conflicts between couples does not necessarily indicate marital happiness. On the other hand, it seems the intensity of the argument between some couples brings out the true color in their marriages. The Four Types of Couples
According to Gottman, there are three types of problem-solving approaches in healthy marriages, volatile, validating, and conflict-avoiding. These three approaches can lead to stable and enduring marriages. However, a fourth approach to conflict resolution, hostile, is likely to end in divorce.
Gottman explains how certain important qualities of each approach predict whether or not a marriage will end in divorce. 1. Volatile Couples
For volatile couples, conflicts erupt easily, and are fought on grand scale, but of course, making up is even greater! These couples have passionate disputes, and frequent and passionate arguments.
According to Gottman, while volatile fight openly, they argue with a lot of wit, display fondness for each other, and have a great time making up. It seems that their volcanic arguments are just a small part of their warm and loving relationship.
It appears that passion and fighting lead to better relationships which include making up, laughing, and affection. So despite the level of their argument, they still resolve their differences.
Volatile couples see themselves as equals, and exhibit individuality and independence in their marriage. They are open with each other about their positive and negative feelings, and their marriages tend to be passionate and exciting.
Gottmanís research indicates that their frequent arguments are balanced out by their positive interactions such as touching, smiling, paying complements, and laughing, and so on. So these couples stick together for the long haul. 2. Validating Couples
Couples who are validators, fight more politely. They are calmer during conflicts, and behave like collaborators as they work through their problems. These couples often compromise, and seek to work out their problems steadily for mutually satisfying results. The mutual respect that they have for each other, limits the amount and level of their arguments.
The emphasis is on communication and compromise, so even if they have heated discussion, they validate each other. They do this by expressing empathy for, and understanding each otherís point of view. Very evident, is their display of care, calm, and self-control even when they discussing hot topics.
Validating couples try to persuade their partners, and find a common ground in the end. During conflict, they let each other know they value their opinions, and see their emotions as legitimate. In disagreement, validating couples, let their partners know they still consider their feelings, even though they donít necessarily agree with their position. 3. Conflict-Avoiding Couples
Conflict-avoiding couples rarely argue, and it seems that they avoid confrontation at all cost. When they discuss their conflicts they do so mildly and carefully, as they donít feel that there is much to be gained from getting openly angry with each other.
These couples agree to disagree, and rarely confront their differences, that could end up in deadlocked discussions. According to Gottman, conflict-avoiding couples believe that their common ground and values are much greater than their differences, and this makes their differences insignificant or easy to accept.
These couples have an avoidant style of marriage, so rather than discussing a conflict with their partners, some spouse often try to fix the situation on their own, or hope that with the passage of time the problems will work themselves out. 4. Hostile Couples...
Hostile couples argue often and hotly, and their arguments are caustic and harmful. Insults, putdowns, and sarcasms prevail when they argue. These couples fail to maintain the 5 to 1 ratio of positivity to negativity in their conflicts, and there is clearly more negative than positive in the relationships.
Hostile couplesí discussions are characterized by too much criticisms, contempt, defensiveness, and withdrawal. Their communication is unhealthy, they donít listen to what each other is saying, and conflicts are dangerous to their relationships.
Some hostile couples try to actively address their disagreements, but this is usually ineffective. Others remain more detached, uninvolved, and critical of each other, with brief spurts of attack and defensiveness. These couples are meaner to each other than the other three types of couples..