An article in Psychology Today, written by marriage researchers, John Gottman and Nan Silver, states there are three different styles of problem solving that apply to healthy marriages:
- Validating – couples compromise often and work out their problems with mutual agreement as they occur.
- Volatile – conflict occurs often, resulting in passionate arguments.
- Conflict-avoiding – couples agree to disagree, rarely dealing with problems immediately and with resolution.
What Dr. Gottman found in his lab with couples is that volatile couples stayed together as long as there was 5 times as much positivity as there was negativity. In relation to the conflict-avoiding couples, he found that these couples learned how to pick and choose on what issues to go face-to-face. They were able to discern when something was critical to talk about and when it was okay to let it go.
In my work with couples, I teach the first style. For some couples, the validating style comes easily, for others it’s more of a challenge. As with most things in life, I think balance is the key.
For an interesting conversation and heightened awareness about your relationship, why don’t you and your mate answer this question: What style of problem solving do we use? Maybe it’s one and maybe it’s a combination. Whatever your answer, it will be an interesting discussion!