Being Married to a Conflict Avoider Benefits Me

When Joe and I took the personal assessments from John Gottman's book that I shared last month, we found out something that I kind of already knew. The conflict style that we relate to the most in our relationship is volatile. Even though we love to argue and debate with each other and our spats usually end in laughter, during our more serious disagreements, Joe tends to be more of a conflict-avoider and I tend to be the more volatile one. This drives me crazy because I want to discuss the things that we can't agree on and when Joe refuses to argue back, I get frustrated. Recently I realized that the way Joe handles conflict actually benefits me and our personal conflict styles compliment each other.

Conflict in Marriage

A few weeks ago, Joe was doing laundry and I had a shirt that needed to be hung up to dry, but washed with our normal load of whites. We usually wash our clothes in three loads; whites and colors both go in the dryer and then we have a separate load of colors that we hang to dry, so I knew that I needed to give him specific instructions about this shirt. We sorted the laundry and I hung it over the side of the basket explaining what needed to be done with it a few times. When I was putting my laundry away later, I realized that said shirt had been through the dryer and I wasn't too happy about it. I immediately started telling Joe loudly, "I told you, this shirt needs to be washed with the whites but it CAN'T go in the dryer! That shrinks it and I need it to be long!" Joe says that I repeated the same phrase at least ten times. The entire time I was making my frustrations known, he just stood there staring at me. After I'd let him know just how upset I was, he smiled at me and said, "The neighbors are going to think you're crazy." I looked at him for a minute, confused and then he told me, "Our bedroom window is open." We both started laughing but I was kind of embarrassed and annoyed that he didn't let me know that earlier in my rant.

Settling Conflict in Marriage

In all of my unreasonable moments, Joe waits for me to get whatever I want to say out of my system and then he helps me see how ridiculous I am being. The way we handle conflict isn't perfect; sometimes I still feel like my feelings are justified and he doesn't understand why it is such a big deal to me, but after reading Gottman's book, I'm glad to know that our conflict style is one of the positive ones and I'm glad that I'm slowly realizing how Joe's conflict style is beneficial to me. Maybe nobody should tell him that I've had that realization though, it might backfire on me.