Why does one marriage last 50 years, while another dissolves in just five years? It's not about happiness. It's about conflict resolution. John M. Gottman of the Relationship Research Institute and the University of Washington conducted a 20-year study with more than 600 married couples and carefully plotted how husbands and wives interacted with each other. Based on these observations, he has identified the three most stable types of marriages -- the kind that are likely to see their golden anniversaries. Gottman actually created a mathematical formula that can predict how well a marriage will endure.

1. The Avoiders
A husband and wife in this type of marriage routinely avoid conflict. Gottman says that when a difference of opinion arises, "they will never argue. They will listen to the other, but will not try to persuade." He calls them the avoiders. While this couple may be unemotional and distant, their union endures through the years.

2. The Bickersons
The husband and wife have a volatile relationship, much like two lawyers arguing in a courtroom. "They can argue at the drop of a hat," Gottman said. But even with frequent and passionate arguments, such marriages do tend to last through the years.

3. The Validating Couple
A husband and wife listen to each other, respect the other's opinion, and only occasionally argue. "They pick the issues they fight about," he explained.

As long as both people in a marriage have the same type of personality, that is, they are both Avoiders or both Bickersons or both Validating, the marriage will last. Trouble occurs when there is a mix, such as one partner is an Avoider and one a Bickerson.


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