How couples fight
April 30, 2004
John Gottman and his team of researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle found that conflict is a natural and inevitable part of any marriage. The fact that all couples experience conflict and disagreement is not the trouble. How they deal with the conflict and disagreement can be either effective and constructive or ineffective and destructive leading to separation and divorce.
Gottman and his team back in the 80s studied over 135 couples and were able to identify three styles of problem solving: validating, conflict-avoiding, and volatile. These styles were all equally good as long as the partners agreed on the style they will use as a couple to resolve the conflicts between them. The problem arises when one partner prefers one style and the other prefers another style. It can take a few years for couples to "learn the ropes". Couples need to experiment through trial and error with different attempts to resolve their disagreements and conflict until they develop a way that works best for them.
If you are interested in learning more about the styles of problem solving, check out Gottman's book, "Why Marriages Succeed or Fail....and How You Can Make Yours Last".