All married couples fight. Regardless of the couple and the circumstances, fighting is an inevitability in any and all marriages. But no matter how constant and intense the fights are, the fact that fighting occurs does not necessarily mean that a couple is headed for divorce. According to a recently released study, whether fighting spells marriage disaster has more to do with the husband and wife's individual and collective fight styles than the timing or reasons behind their quarrels.

The study, which was performed by researchers at the University of Michigan, examined almost 375 couples over a span of 16 years, beginning with each couple's first year of marriage. The number of couples and the time frame made it the longest and largest research study on marital conflict that has ever been performed in the U.S.

In an interesting and unexpected result, the study found that couples with explosive fight styles, who utilize fighting tactics such as screaming, yelling, throwing things and slamming doors, were not the most likely to end up in divorce. A fight style in which one spouse attempts to objective analyze a situation and relate to his or her partner, while the other withdraws, proved to be far more toxic to a marriage. Researchers say this is because a partner who withdraws is sending a message that he or she is no longer interested in the relationship, making it much more difficult to work through problems.

The study also found that fighting during the first year of a marriage did not affect the probability of eventual divorce. Among study participants, 29 percent of husbands and 21 percent of wives reported that they did not fight with their spouse during their first year of marriage. However, 46 percent of those couples who reported that they did not fight during that first year were divorced by the end of the study.

Source: Kansas City Star, "Study: It's your fight style, not the fight, that may lead to divorce", Amber DiNenna, 28 January 2011