We’ve been looking at Professor Murray’s 5 Categories of Married Couples. Last time we looked at the most successful category … the Validating Couple. They are known for putting each other’s needs and desires over their individual wants. They work hard to validate and build each other up. They pursue connectedness which produces a strong marital bond. In this article we want to
explore Murray’s second type of couple … “The Avoiders”.
Avoiders can maintain what Murray calls a “stable” marriage. But, they are
far from successful in establishing the level of connectedness that deepens,
strengthens and brings true love to their relationship. Their root issue is their
misguided-belief that conflict is bad for marriages; and they go to great lengths to
avoid confrontation … hence their name! It seems as though they believe: “If we
don’t talk about the bad stuff … it will go away!”
Although they work overtime to put on and keep up a good front for their
kids, family and friends to see, they would rarely be called sweet romantics. They
“deny and pretend” to preserve what they believe to be a positive marriage; and
are often successful in building what appears to be a safe and comfortable life.
Outsiders view them as good people, parents and a solid couple. But the truth is
the only thing keeping them together is their refusal to deal with the negative
stigma of divorce. Their fear of the fallout from their faith, family, friends and
finances keep them holding on. They are only staying together for the benefit of
someone or something else!
The greater tragedy of the Avoiders’ aversion to conflict is their inability to
see how it robs them of experiencing true intimacy. It’s impossible to build a solid
connection when you don’t really know how and what each other is feeling or
thinking. So, instead of having two very engaged and attached spouses, Avoiders
are disengaged and detached from each other. They portray the classic “two
ships passing in the night.” Each spouse has his or her own priorities, interests
and schedules that he or she has placed above the mutual benefit of their
marriage. They are not about the “we” but are all about the “me.”
If you are seeing some “Avoider” traits in your marriage stop and think
about your own views about conflict. Do you see it as a negative obstacle to be
avoided at all costs, or an opportunity to get to know each other better and to
grow your intimacy? Learning how to resolve conflict is a vital skill to building a
more intimate marriage relationship.
Some things to talk about:
- Do we see any of the characteristics of the Avoiders in our marriage?
- How well do we handle and resolve conflict in our relationship?
- What do we need to do to improve this area of our marriage?