Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hiders, Fighters and Lovers in Marriage

Building a lifetime of great relationships.

Dr. John Gottman has done research with couples for almost three decades. He has focused a lot of his studies on how couples deal with differences between them. And, there are many differences between them.

He has concluded several things but allow me to mention one. Gottman is convinced that a couple can manage their differences in three positive ways and one very toxic and dangerous way. The three healthy ways lead to long term marriages of satisfaction and functionality but the toxic process almost inevitably leads to divorce.

I. Some couples deal with differences and the conflict they cause by Avoiding each other and the topic of disagreement until things cool down. They says things such as, "Our marriage is so much more important than any small difference of opinion".

In one family, the man would go down to his workshop and the wife would sew. They might never mention the conflict again but simply stay committed to each other despite the difference.

II. Other couples are Volatile and like to argue. They disagree all the time and argue about many small, insignificant issues. However, the arguments do not get personal. They tend to stay focused on the details of the disagreement not the personal characteristics of their mate.

III. Lastly is the style that a lot of Counselors and Relationship Coaches suggest. It can be called, "the Lovers Style" because they talk everything through and share all their feelings and thoughts until they agree. This style eshausts every topic until there is little left to say.

What style did your parents use to disagree? Did they like to hide their disagreements by going to the workroom or kitchen until it blew over? Or did the like to dialogue about things in a deeply sharing manner? Some of your parents liked to keep things interesting and exciting by arguments.

Fill in this blank: My parents dealt with disagreements by _____________.

How about you and your spouse? We handle disagreements by _______________.


Mudaliar Matrimony said...

I am fully agree that according to some couples their marriage is more important than all other stupid things.They always try to solve any problem which create difficulty in their marriage life but some couples always show immaturity in their relationships.They don't even try to solve problem which comes in their maariage life.

Gary Sweeten said...

No question but that is right. If everyone was able to deal with their differences in one of these healthy manners we would not need to do so much teaching, counseling and ministry. We are all Fallible Human Beings and many of us fail in the "maturity test". As Pogo the Possum said in the Walt Kelly cartoon, "We have met the enemy and it is me".

My next post is all about Toxic Conflict. See what you think and make a comment or two.