Topics of Conflict Vary According to Stage in Life Dating partners – more sexual conflicts. Newlyweds – abusive, inconsiderate, moody, disheveled. Midlife – children Older couples – recreation, communication
Attributions: Happy and Unhappy Couples Spouses in happy marriage make benign attributions, distressed couples make distress- maintaining attributions. –Positive behaviors are discounted through the use of external, unstable, and specific attributions. Negative behaviors are internal, stable, and global. –Assume partner is selfishly motivated and had negative intentions Bidirectional relationship between attributions and marital satisfaction.
Middle Stage of Conflict Peterson (1983): Negotiation vs. Escalation Escalation – generalization of issues, attribution of blame, personal attacks, demands, threats Revisiting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Withdrawal Negative Reciprocity
Miscommunication Kitchen sinking – drag several topics into conversation (e.g. it’s not just that you’re always late, it’s the fact you drink all the time and hang out with those friends and never clean up after yourself) Off-beam – jumping from topic to topic Negative-mindreading Interrupt Yes – butting Cross - complaining
Good Communication I-statements and XYZ statements vs. You- always statements Paraphrasing Perception Checking Avoid negative reciprocity Validate (e.g.I don’t blame you for feeling that way, I understand that”
Negotiation and Accommodation Negotiation – rational problem - solving Accommodation – responding constructively. Caryl Rusbult: 4 types of responses to conflict: Exit Voice Loyalty Neglect
Accommodation – voice and loyalty Accommodation – securely attached individuals, more satisfied with relationships, more committed. Accommodation can be a reciprocal process:
Demand - Withdrawal Pattern Women demand more – criticize, complain, confront conflict Men withdraw In unhappy couples, this pattern is magnified – but a reverse of gender roles is associated with marital satisfaction Why?
Dealing with Conflict: Types of Couples Unstable (Hostile and hostile-detached) Stable (Volatiles, Validators, Avoiders) Stable couples maintained a ratio of positive to negative affect of about 5:1. Unstable couples – about 1:1 or less.
Stable Couples Conflict Engagers: Volatile – lots of positive affect, but also lots of negative affect. A lot of arguing. Validating – More neutral affect. Although couples may disagree, communicate understanding and acceptance of other person’s point of view. Avoiders: State feelings, and then close discussion. Refer to the passage of time as resolving conflict. Don’t actively problem solve.
Unstable couples: Hostile and Hostile/detached Negative, a lot of attack and defensiveness. Demonstrate four horsemen.
Termination and Outcomes of Conflict Peterson (1983) 4 ways conflicts can end: Separation: withdrawal without resolution. Domination: One person gives in to the other. Compromise: Mutually acceptable alternative Integrative agreements: Both partner’s desires are satisfied.
Is Fighting Good or Bad Conflict is associated with many negative outcomes. Yet, some research has found that conflict engagement increases marital satisfaction over time (especially in wives).
Is Fighting Good or Bad Weathering conflict can make people learn more about each other, trust each other more, and improve conditions of relationship. Conflict per se does not have negative consequences: It’s the type of conflict.
Fight Effects Hurt Information Resolution Control Fear Trust Reconciliation Centricity Catharsis Cohesion-Affection
Violence and Abuse 51.9 percent of women and 66.4 percent of men say they have been physically assaulted at some time in there relationship
Types of Violence Common couple violence Patriarchal terrorism Mutual violent control Violent resistance
Gender Differences High level of wife to husband abuse But, women suffer serious injuries more often than men Women are twice as likely to be killed by their spouse Violence also occurs at a relatively high rate among gay and lesbian couples
Correlates of Violence Stressful events Low income Little education Family background Cohabitation
Dating couples Violence does occur among dating couples (22.3 percent) Reasons why –Anger –Control (males) –Self-defense (females)
Why don’t they leave? Economic status Long relationships Love Greater investment, lack of alternatives, satisfaction Abandonment panic