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What Makes Marriage Work? | Psychology Today


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Which is YOUR favorite conflict-resolution style?  Mine is "Volatile",  which John Gottman has said he wishes he called "Passionate".

"Volatile. Conflict erupts often, resulting in passionate disputes."

I'm not into that. I prefer this one:

Validating. Couples compromise often and calmly work out their problems to mutual satisfaction as they arise.

Well, it's not like I "relish" the eruption.  It's just that I'm more intense than calm, although I try to remain calm.  It's more accurate to say that I jump into the conflict without preamble "This is what I think" rather than "what do you think?", and I have a very big range of emotions.  But I try very hard to remain compassionate, understanding, and reasonable.  Those are the two keys to the volatile style: being very forward about the subject matter, even in conflict, and having a broad range of emotional expressiveness.

Ah. The word I was keying on was "often". It seems more appropriate less frequently.

Well, that makes sense.  I can't remember which book or video I read from Gottman about the two dimensions of conflict resolution style: how and whether they jump into the conflict, and the range of emotional expressiveness.

Lots of small, gentle conflict resolutions and a few big blow ups seems like the right mix to aim for.

Well, actually I wouldn't AIM for ANY blow ups.  I would think they would be rare if the couple has built up a lot of trust and goodwill.  The Gottman Institute even has has a specific tool for the aftermath of a fight or "regrettable incident."  His latest work really focuses a lot more on trust in the marriage.

That does sound ideal. Trust takes a long time to build.

Well, it's true that you can destroy it in an instant.  And of course, trust does take some time to build.  However, I'm wondering if you have an idea about how long it takes to build?

Long. Sometimes years!

I beg to differ.  Think back.  Weren't the signs of trustworthiness in place almost from the beginning?  That is my experience.

Yes.

On the other hand, everyone can make mistakes.

It's hard to know where genuine betrayal is going to come from until it happens.

Quite the contrary, that's why he can predict divorce with well over 90% accuracy 4-5 years previous!  Don't you find that persuasive?

I didn't find it persuasive.

There's the cases of people who he thought wouldn't work but did.

And there's the cases of the people who he thought would work but didn't.

There's enough of those cases that I'd rather take my chances if my intuition says to stay with it.

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