Gottman's (1994a) three stable conflict resolution styles (CRSs), validating, volatile, and avoidant, are different on several dimensions, yet all are predictors of good marital satisfaction. Despite the CRSs equality in marital satisfaction and stability research, teaching couples a validating style is often explicitly more preferential in therapeutic settings. Relationship self-regulation (RSR), described as relationship “work”, is also a strong predictor of relationship satisfaction. Identifying the CRS environment in a relationship that most contributes to the practice of RSR can inform clinical and couple relationship education interventions. Based on its success in improving marital satisfaction in therapeutic settings, a validating CRS was hypothesized to be more closely associated with the practice of RSR by husbands and wives compared to a volatile or avoidant style. A third variable, commitment to the relationship, characterized by a desire to stay rather than an obligation to remain, also was tested as a moderator of the relationship between stable CRSs and RSR. Data from first-married men (856) and women (1406) taking the RELATionship Evaluation (RELATE) online questionnaire was used in correlational and MANCOVA analyses to test the research questions. All three stable CRSs were found to be positively related to RSR. However, the validating style was found to be the most predictive of both RSR effort and strategies compared to the other two styles. Commitment was a moderator between CRSs and RSR for only validating and avoidant CRSs for RSR strategies but not effort. Results generally support the theoretical model tested. Implications for future research and clinical practice are discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Marriage and Family Therapy



Date Submitted


Document Type





conflict resolution styles, regulated and stable styles, commitment, relationship self-regulation