Turn A Volatile Relationship Into A Validating One

Seven tips on changing a conflict ridden relationship into one where there is mutual validation.


How would you like to turn your relationship that goes from wonderful to awful millions of time a day into a loving, comfortable connection?

You love the idea of it, but can't see it happening. The secret lies in discovering whether you have a 'validator' relationship or a 'battle type' relationship. The story of Peter and Hedy will help you find out which fits your connection and offers tips on making your relationship a peaceful validating one.


Hedy and Peter couldn’t go more than three days without some conflict.

Each of them felt outraged about the continued betrayal and disappointment that coated their emotional tongues. Peter wants things done, but he expects to be consulted Peter expected Hedy to take care of the house, the kids and family matters, but got upset when she didn’t do it his way. He also got angry when he wasn’t consulted before Hedy made decisions and took action. Like the time she accepted an invitation to a party on behalf of them as a couple, but to which he didn’t want to go. Like the time when she put the food on the table without separate forks for each course. That made him mad, because it wasn’t the way he was brought up, and it made him feel he was getting second class service.


Hedy wants Peter to take care of child care duties but doesn't approve of his methods

Hedy wanted her husband to do the bed time duties with the kids when she was tired, but got upset that he took too long, was too lenient with story time, and indulged their youngest child when he cried for attention. Hedy wanted Peter to take the kids to school in the morning and complained about his refusal to do it. When he made an effort to do so Hedy took him to task about buying them junk food on the way to school, and giving them extra pocket money.

What type of marriage is likely to fail?

Not sharing beliefs, ideas and decision making cause conflict Hedy and Peter rarely shared family and home care taking duties. They fought and argued, criticized and expressed outrage when either one didn’t do things as expected. They didn’t agree on how to bring up their kids because they never shared their views as they went along. They didn’t agree on their roles as husband and wife. They waited until there was a transgression against one of their personal standards and used it to beat each other up.


Research indicates that conflict ridden marriages are prone to break up and divorce

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?

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.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.