Conflict Avoiding

Conflict Avoiding

It is necessary for people to talk, maybe not immediately, and to reach a reasonable compromise. A satisfying couple relationship is nothing but a series of compromises.

However, there are couples who can be highly functional by minimizing conflicts (“conflict-avoiding marriage”).

How is it possible for a relationship to thrive if people do not face their ideas, preferences or attitudes and, especially, if they do not reach to an agreement? In fact, the partners come to an agreement: they agree to disagree! Both accept that they have different points of view and that it is best to leave things as they are.

For both partners, the issue that remains undiscussed (and unresolved, obviously) is not as important as other aspects of their relationship that they find valuable. “There’s no point in paying too much attention to this, there are other things that matter to the two of us and it doesn’t make sense to endanger them by now coming into conflict!”

If you really like to communicate you will find this alternative (conflict avoidance) unattractive. It’s the best sign that you need a partner like you. If you are marry a conflict minimizer, while you have a different style of resolving disputes, prepare for suffering!

Happy couples, in Gottman’s studies, are those with similar styles of conflict management.

Avoidant couples weigh their attitudes and do not give much importance to the things that separate them, precisely because they value more the things that unite them.

There are people who treat a problem in a more relaxed way and, being less tense, they later find resources to solve it elegantly.

I repeat, it does not apply to all couples in which conflicts are avoided and it is certainly not valid in couples in which one wants to impose his point of view and does not give up until he gets something and the other gives up regularly. In order to work, both partners need to have a similar philosophy, to manage the conflict in a similar way and not to feel threatened by the unresolved nature of differences of opinion. Moreover, it is necessary that the connection between the two be strong, that is, simply speaking, what unites them is more important than what separates them.

Avoiding conflict, in some couples, seems to be a healthy adaptation to the problem of living together. Gottman’s scientific research proves this.

Holman, T. B., & Jarvis, M. O. (2003). Hostile, volatile, avoiding, and validating couple-conflict types: an investigation of Gottman’s couple-conflict types. Personal Relationships, 10(2), 267–282. 10.1111/1475-6811.00049.

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