5 Types of Couples According to Scientific Research

Find out which type of couple you are

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There are only 5 types of couples according to Dr. John Gottman, co-founder of The Gottman Institute and world-renowned for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction. Over the course of 40 years, which he spent conducting research with thousands of couples, he was able to finally categorize couples into 3 relatively successful ones and 2 that are much more complicated. 

Previously, we discussed the outward appearances of marriage in Which typical marriage model do you and your spouse fall into?. The purpose of connecting these two subjects is to see how your relationship dynamics impact your marriage as a whole and how the model of your marriage impacts the dynamics of your relationship.  

To be able to make a more thorough couple assessment, find out which one of Gottman’s 5 types of couples best fits you and your spouse.  

THE CONFLICT AVOIDERS 

The conflict avoiders are obviously people who think that avoiding conflict makes their relationship much easier. They make sure to dodge trouble by always responding positively to their spouse. In other words, they agree to disagree leaving unresolved issues hanging. Conflict avoiders only focus on areas in which they agree upon and work on minimizing areas of disagreement. They fail to express their feelings and their needs to each other. 

Generally, it would look like the marriage is stable and happy. They somehow know how to work it out that way, which is why their positive to negative ratio is 5 to 1. They only risk drifting apart. With time, they would seem like they are living two parallel lives instead of one. When too many unspoken issues and problems keep adding up, they will eventually hit a breaking point where both will shut down having absolutely no energy left to work on the relationship. 

THE VOLATILE

Also could be the in-betweens. This marriage is by its very nature a mixture of the stable and unstable. These two usually have very heated arguments because they are very passionate but in the end, they tend to be more unhappy than happy. They are the opposite of conflict avoiders because they are intensely emotional and honest about how they feel. They always face their issues and are not afraid to talk about their emotions and needs to each other. They somehow know how to turn an argument into laughter. Their positive to negative ratio is 5 to 1. 

THE VALIDATING

Their interaction is mostly characterized by ease and calmness. Intermediate between volatile and conflict avoiders, as they are expressive but tend to be neutral at times as well. These two are supportive and understanding of each other’s points of view. The core of their relationship is pursuing togetherness, companionship and not individuality.  They work as one team that shares intimate and companionate moments. They don’t confront differences unless it’s needed, as they understand that it’s normal to be different on some level. A competitive streak could get triggered between them occasionally, ending in a short-termed power struggle. In the end, they know how to compromise and accommodate each other, which makes the fights fair and rational. Their positive to negative ratio is 5 to 1.

THE HOSTILE

We often find the hostile couple fighting and spending most of their time criticizing, defending, whining, and attacking. Unfortunately, these two have very little empathy, support, and understanding of either’s points of view and situations. They have the same fights over and over again because each person insists on being right every single time. The relationship obviously lacks communication, connection, understanding, empathy, and intimacy. 

Usually, one is a confronter and the other is an avoider, which builds resentment and contempt over time.  Sadly, this couple is incapable of having or maintaining a healthy relationship. They continuously tend to live unhappy than happy moments together. 

 

THE HOSTLE DETACHED

This marriage is like an actual battlefield with no clear victory at hand. One is fiery and insists on discussing the issue, while the other refuses to talk about it. During conflict, which happens almost all the time, one is inclined to withdraw and the other does not back down. The fighting persists until both are insanely drained and emotionally exhausted. Their relationship is guided by criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and aggression. 

The endless fighting leads to emotional detachment and eventually, to giving up entirely on the relationship. Thus, the hostile-detached show high rates of divorce rates. Surprisingly, the hostile couple is not a closed divorce case mainly because they know how to regulate their negativity, while the hostile-detached do not.

Credits: 

Article “The 5 Types of Couples” by John Gottman, Ph.D.  The Gottman Institution, a research-based approach to relationships.

Article “Gottman Research Describes 5 Kinds of Couples” by Daniel Dashnaw Couples Therapy Inc. website.

 

Edited by Nour Nasreldin

There are only 5 types of couples according to Dr. John Gottman, co-founder of The Gottman Institute and world-renowned for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction. Over the course of 40 years, which he spent conducting research with thousands of couples, he was able to finally categorize couples into 3 relatively successful ones and 2 that are much more complicated. 

Previously, we discussed the outward appearances of marriage in (Which typical marriage model do you and your spouse fall into?). The purpose of connecting these two subjects is to see how your relationship dynamics impact your marriage as a whole and how the model of your marriage impacts the dynamics of your relationship.  

To be able to make a more thorough couple assessment, find out which one of Gottman’s 5 types of couples best fits you and your spouse.  

THE CONFLICT AVOIDERS 

The conflict avoiders are obviously people who think that avoiding conflict makes their relationship much easier. They make sure to dodge trouble by always responding positively to their spouse. In other words, they agree to disagree leaving unresolved issues hanging. Conflict avoiders only focus on areas in which they agree upon and work on minimizing areas of disagreement. They fail to express their feelings and their needs to each other. 

Generally, it would look like the marriage is stable and happy. They somehow know how to work it out that way, which is why their positive to negative ratio is 5 to 1. They only risk drifting apart. With time, they would seem like they are living two parallel lives instead of one. When too many unspoken issues and problems keep adding up, they will eventually hit a breaking point where both will shut down having absolutely no energy left to work on the relationship. 

THE VOLATILE

Also could be the in-betweens. This marriage is by its very nature a mixture of the stable and unstable. These two usually have very heated arguments because they are very passionate but in the end, they tend to be more unhappy than happy. They are the opposite of conflict avoiders because they are intensely emotional and honest about how they feel. They always face their issues and are not afraid to talk about their emotions and needs to each other. They somehow know how to turn an argument into laughter. Their positive to negative ratio is 5 to 1. 

THE VALIDATING

Their interaction is mostly characterized by ease and calmness. Intermediate between volatile and conflict avoiders, as they are expressive but tend to be neutral at times as well. These two are supportive and understanding of each other’s points of view. The core of their relationship is pursuing togetherness, companionship and not individuality.  They work as one team that shares intimate and companionate moments. They don’t confront differences unless it’s needed, as they understand that it’s normal to be different on some level. A competitive streak could get triggered between them occasionally, ending in a short-termed power struggle. In the end, they know how to compromise and accommodate each other, which makes the fights fair and rational. Their positive to negative ratio is 5 to 1.

THE HOSTILE

We often find the hostile couple fighting and spending most of their time criticizing, defending, whining, and attacking. Unfortunately, these two have very little empathy, support, and understanding of either’s points of view and situations. They have the same fights over and over again because each person insists on being right every single time. The relationship obviously lacks communication, connection, understanding, empathy, and intimacy. 

Usually, one is a confronter and the other is an avoider, which builds resentment and contempt over time.  Sadly, this couple is incapable of having or maintaining a healthy relationship. They continuously tend to live unhappy than happy moments together. 

 

THE HOSTLE DETACHED

This marriage is like an actual battlefield with no clear victory at hand. One is fiery and insists on discussing the issue, while the other refuses to talk about it. During conflict, which happens almost all the time, one is inclined to withdraw and the other does not back down. The fighting persists until both are insanely drained and emotionally exhausted. Their relationship is guided by criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and aggression. 

The endless fighting leads to emotional detachment and eventually, to giving up entirely on the relationship. Thus, the hostile-detached show high rates of divorce rates. Surprisingly, the hostile couple is not a closed divorce case mainly because they know how to regulate their negativity, while the hostile-detached do not.