The No-Argument Couple
By not fighting, you're not engaging each other, says Harville Hendrix, PhD, author of Getting the Love You Want and co-founder of Imago Relationship Therapy, and that may be due to a fear of intimacy. These relationships can last a long time while you function well as parents without any hint of problems, but you often become more buddies than lovers. "It's a category we call the parallel marriage," he says, which tends to turn flat and colorless. Some couples, however, maintain perfectly healthy relationships without quarreling, according to John Gottman, PhD, executive director of the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle and author of Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. In his years of research, he's observed various types of marriages: validating, in which partners pick their battles and fight fair; volatile, in which they fight all the time; and conflict avoiding—they rarely fight. All three are equally stable, Gottman has found, as long as it's working for both partners and there's a minimum of criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.