Exploring the Different Types of Couples by Gottman

Exploring the Different Types of Couples by Gottman


Dr. John Gottman has over 40 years of experience studying relationships. After doing research in the love lab, Gottman has identified five different types of couples. Three of the types—Conflict-Avoiding, Volatile, and Validating—are among those he believes to be relatively successful and adaptive. The two that are left, hostile and hostile-detached, are the most troublesome and likely to end in divorce, in his opinion.

These five types of relationships were created by Dr. Gottman himself after years of study and experience. Take all of this with a big grain of salt, though, much like any "kind" of anything that tries to condense the human experience into manageable concepts. On the other hand, when a couple devotes their entire lives and means of support to exploring practical solutions for the mysterious world of marriage, which most of us are merely wandering through, well, we listen.

Interpersonal conflicts

Conflicts between people happen when they have differences between them. These include variations in individuals' motivations, objectives, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Even though there will always be differences between two individuals, one important thing that leads to conflict is when one person's actions or wishes interfere with the other person's.

According to Miller and Perman (2008), it is doubtful that couples will be able to avoid conflicts in their relationships because they have distinct personalities and preferences, and achieving one person's goals may put the other at a disadvantage. However, disagreement is a dynamic process that, rather than destroying relationships, could start change through growth.

Conflict interpretation and resolution are significantly influenced by a couple's views, thoughts, values, and feelings. To overcome the disagreement, however, the three components of issue, relationship, and emotion must be addressed. Relationships can be strengthened or weakened depending on how a pair handles interpersonal conflicts.

Functional couple style

Conflict avoidant couple

There are different levels of conflict avoidant couples' behavior. These couples don't like being pressured into making decisions. They lack strategic thinking skills. They don't strive for their personal benefit. They concentrate on areas where they agree and feel most at comfort when these areas expand rather than decrease. Active requests from one another cause them anxiety, and they value reciprocity and consistency as the ultimate characteristics of happiness. Couples that don't fight often have a great awareness of where independent functioning areas meet those that call for compromise and negotiation. They value independent functioning and seek to set clear, defined boundaries.

Volatile couples

Conflict avoiders avoid conflict at all costs, whereas volatile couples are very emotional. They start convincing during a disagreement talk right away and maintain it throughout. There is a lot of laughter, shared delight, and fun during their discussion. Despite the fact that they seem to enjoy arguing and fighting, they are not disrespectful or insulting.

While many unpleasant emotions, such as anger and insecurity, may be expressed, there is no hatred or disrespect. There is a significant amount of overlap and no real distinction between their separate worlds. Even though they frequently disagree over their respective duties, they place a strong emphasis on connection and openness in their communication.

Validating couples

These couples' interactions are marked by calmness and comfort. They are largely neutral but a little expressive. They resemble a combination of avoiders and problematic couples in many aspects. They place a high value on appreciating and supporting their partner's point of view and regularly express empathy for their partner's feelings.

They will discuss their differences, but only when certain issues are involved. On some topics, they can become highly competitive, which could result in a power struggle. Then, typically, they calm off and give ground. Validating couples exhibit only minimal emotional expression during conflict. Once more, for valuators, the positive-to-negative effect ratio remained around a five-to-one ratio.

Dysfunctional couples style

Hostile couples

Similar to validating couples, hostile couples differ in that both partners exhibit significant degrees of defensiveness. According to the Love Lab's studies with heterosexual couples, the wife typically avoids while the husband affirms.  A lot of criticism with remarks, and complaining behavior were also present. Each pair reaffirmed their own point of view when there was a disagreement, and neither partner's standpoint appeared to have any support or understanding from the other. There was a lot of hatred and disrespect. Seek help from the Marriage counselor.

Hostile- detached couples

These relationships are like two armies locked in a lonely and frustrating battle with no apparent winner—only a halt. They scream at each other when things get heated, yet the air is thick with emotional numbness and resignation, like gun smoke. Hostile-detached couples engage in bitter-pitched battles, increasing the negative energy. Typically, hostile-detached wives are inconsolable since all dimensions of trust have been destroyed.

Hostile-detached wives will continue fighting while their husbands try to distance themselves until the conflict has completely increased and become disrupted, while hostile couples will control their conflict while the hostile-detached will continue fighting until they are exhausted and burned out. A recurring trend among hostile detached spouses is emotional abuse. To communicate with the top Online counselor go to TalktoAngel or search for the Best psychologist in India or Best psychologist delhi to seek help regarding relationship issues

Contact the Psychowellness Centre to schedule a mental health therapy session. psychologists with a reputation for expertise. The establishment is close to NOIDA, Janakpuri, Dwarka, Faridabad, and Delhi NCR.

Contribution: Dr (Prof) R K Suri, Clinical Psychologist, life coach & mentor TalktoAngel & Dr. Sakshi Kochhar Psychologist.