Hedy and Peter have what is known as a volatile marriage. In these marriages couples fight and have short truces. They are constantly in a battle zone, trying to defeat the other. There is always one person who wins and one who loses. Lulls in between the battles are spent going through the motions of living together but not sharing hurt, pain, love or respect. According to a study reported in the Journal of Family Issues, 2011 about 20% of adults are in volatile marriages, and are at risk of constant conflict and or divorce. Volatile marriages have high levels of conflict and middle levels of happiness during the down times. Each person is more concerned with vindication of their own position rather than putting the unity of the marriage as top priority.
What is the best type of marriage for long term success?
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Research suggests that couples who share decisions and validate one another are happy and low in stressful conflict The marriages most likely to be happy and succeed are the validator marriages. Couples engage with each other by sharing their views before making decisions. They act on joint decisions that stem from a mutual validation of each others opinion, experience, motivation and purpose. Each partner shares in the housework and decision making by valuing their partner and appreciating rather than demanding certain behaviors. There is less need to prove things to one another, and more willingness and acceptance of joint roles in making life agreeable for them as a couple.
People in validator marriages report high levels of happiness and low to middle level conflicts. There is a balance between individual needs and those of the couple. Both spouses are invested in the relationship, making room for their individual needs but also making sure the couple aspect of the connection flourishes by being flexible and understanding.
How can you change your marriage from a volatile to a validator type?
1. Show curiosity and interest in your partner’s experience.
2. Keep up to date with your partner’s wishes, hopes and visions
3. Talk about your expectations openly rather than get upset when they aren’t met according to your criteria.
4. Ask your partner about his/her expectations and begin a dialogue of understanding and compromise.
5. Avoid asking for rubber stamping and or approval of decisions you have already made.
6. Respect the things that are important to your partner even if they don’t mesh with your ideas. Use your feelings to get a deeper understanding of why certain things are so important for your partner.
7. Start conversations with “ how can we…..”
8. Don’t make assumptions about how your spouse may feel or think. Ask and invite collaboration. That way you invest equal responsibility for the marriage working, and keep conflict down to a minimum.
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Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.