If Your Conflict Style is like the McDiffs

Different Conflict Styles.
Couples come to us with all different kinds of issues: sex, money, co-parenting… the list goes on and on.

But we've noticed that more important than the content of the issues, is the way the couple talks to each other.

We've found that there are basically three types of couples, which we call the Trenches, the McDiff's and the Moore's.

Based on the short assessment quiz you just took above (if you didn't take it yet, click here), your current conflict style appears to be like our McDiffs: your main issue is about understanding difference.

When you're done reading about your own type, you might want to read about the other two types, for three reasons:
1) You're bound to know couples in all three categories,
2) All couples are a combination of all three types and so have issues from each, and
3) The path to the Mature Relationship is an evolution from the Trenches (war-like fights), to the McDiffs (irreconcilable differences) to the Moores (learning how to have more intimacy and connection).

The McDiff's' Problem Defined


Your differences are real, and they're not going to go away.

The core issue for couples whose conflict style is like the McDiffs is irreconcilable differences. You probably find yourself asking whether you are married to the right person: "How did I marry someone so differenf from me?"

Differences are part of the bedrock of intimate relationships. To a large extent they're what attracted you to each other: and not just any difference, but the particular set of differences that the two of you have.

We believe that you picked this person because they have exactly those differences which are currently driving you crazy.

The problem isn't that they are different, that's the benefit they bring into your life.

So how do you get the benefit of these pesky differences?
You need to understand that what you and your partner really disagree about is not the underlying values (which we call Universal Human Needs), but just about the particular strategies each of you wants to use to satisfy those needs.

We find, over and over, that fundamentally, couples deeply agree about the very things they are fighting about!

Under every disagreement, is a fundamental agreement?
Take parenting, for instance. We see lots of parents fighting over how to raise their kids. One parent may emphasize safety, compassion and encouraging the child's self-expression (usually the mom), and the other parent (usually the dad) is likely to encourage risk-taking, natural consequences and building the child's self-confidence .

While these sound dialectically opposed, in fact, at the needs level, both parents are wanting their child to grow up to be strong and happy so they can succeed in the world.

They are just focusing on different qualities of those underlying Universal Human Needs (what we call strategies).

Both/And instead of Either/Or.
It's obvious, from the parenting example, that the child would actually be better off getting both sets of skills.

It may not be as obvious in your fights, but the same is true for your relationship. If one of you is spontaneous and the other is a planner, your relationship will only suffer if one or the other of your strategies gets left out. The ideal is to learn to respect and value both of your approaches and to flexibly employ one, both or a hybrid depending on the ever changing circumstances of life.

When nobody wins, somebody loses.
From a mediation standpoint, the McDiff's fights are win-lose.

Instead of working together as a team, the McDiff's are in a never-ending competition for supremacy.

You are a step ahead of the Trenches - instead of criticizing each other's value, you judge the value of each other's strategies. Being told your idea is not any good is less personally hurtful than being told you are not any good (though it may feel the same sometimes) it does create gridlock in the decision-making process.

Inevitably, you each end up acting on your own, doing it your own way, because you just can't get agreement.

The McDiff's are ripe for the Teamwork Mediation Process, which is all about larning simple conflict resolution skills. For many McDiff couples, just experiencing one session breaks the deadlock, and opens them up to feeling hopeful again. Usually by the third or fourth session, we are already starting to move on to how you can get more connection and intimacy (the issue of the Moores).

If your relationship is currently like the McDiff's, you might want to read about where you are headed

Not knowing what the 'problem' is, is the problem.
The McDiff's both know what the problem is: it is 100% the other person's ideas.

They also both know the answer: the other person has to see how much better their ideas are.

The only thing they don't know is how to be convincing enough to get the other person to see the error of their ways.

Here's something to Try...

If you'd like, fill out your answers to the questions below, and we'll email them to you after a pause so you can sleep on your answers.

1. What is your partner doing, saying (or not doing or saying) which is contributing to your being a McDiff type of couple?

2. What are you doing, saying (or not doing or saying) which is contributing to your being a McDiff type of couple?

3. Think back to the way you and your spouse talk to each other, and write down what you notice.

If you'd like us to email your answers to you, fill out the form below:
  Send it to me right away
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To keep you working on your relationship (for free)
Would you like us to email you a weekly:
  A new question each week for you to consider?
A short story about what we learned this week from our clients (blog entry)?
A link to a short weekly video from the classes we teach each week?



Help for the McDiffs

Teamwork or competition?
Is your marriage one long competition for who is right? Does one of you (your partner) always seem to get their way? (Would it surprise you to find out that they think you are the one who always wins?) Marriages like this are exhausting and not just twice as hard as being alone, they're ten times harder!

If you are both fed up with fighting, we can help.
In our experience, couples who have this problem almost always have picked the right person - someone who is different from them in just the right ways (as frustrating as that is!).

That's why we call it Teamwork Mediation!

If this describes you, you're just a few simple skills away from turning that competition into cooperation and Teamwork. Which makes life not just twice as nice, it makes it ten-times as much fun!.

We guarantee results, or there's no charge for the first session.

In this kind of case, even after even one (guaranteed) session, you'll be able to tell if we're right about this process making things measurably better.
If either of you or I am not satisfied that this process is right for the two of you, there's no charge for that first session.

Come to us, or from the comfort of your own home.
If you have a computer with a web connection and a web-cam, we can do the sessions right from your home.

Schedule your own appointment.

The way the two of you are communicating, gridlocks your relationship.
The longer you wait, the greater the risk of your marriage devolving into personal attacks. Let us help.

If you're ready to schedule an appointment, just click here to register and make your own appointment: