In their book, The Remarriage Checkup, Ron Deal and David Olson discuss the differences in how couples handle conflict. “Research has suggested that happy and unhappy couples alike share the same number of conflicts. Unhappy couples just can’t get through the differences – they get stuck in them. Healthy couples, by comparison, are much more likely to find creative solutions to their differences and work them out (80 percent versus only 28 percent of unsatisfied couples). They are able to think outside the box and are open to explore different ideas.”
One way we get stuck in conflict is when we use the same style of handling conflict for every situation. I addressed the peacekeeper style in my earlier post on managing conflict. Another style many people use is the dominator.When I think about the dominator style, I think of a fast-moving train plowing down a track. If you get in its way, you will be plastered.
Dominators believe they must get their way, regardless of what it takes. They use arguing, yelling, threatening, or manipulating to get others to surrender to them. Dominators may even use force or bodily harm when other tactics don’t work. But managing conflict through dominating others is rarely the solution.
An alternative to insisting upon your way through dominating others is allowing flexibility with what others in your family need and want. The Remarriage Checkup states, “Our research discovered that a healthy dose of flexibility in the couple’s relationship and individual attitudes toward the management of their family was one of the top five predictors of a satisfying relationship, and accounted for nearly 20 percent of what predicted a healthy, strong remarriage relationship.”