In Dunleavy, Goodboy, Booth-Butterfield, Sidelinger, and Banfield (2009),

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Last updated: May 14, 2019

In any form of interpersonal communication, it is importantand beneficial to acknowledge the force for conflict that occurs withinrelationships, and deriving an effective resolution technique from such. Thehigh divorce rates in American society today insist that some light be shed onthis growing societal epidemic. From the research collected for this paper, thefocus is placed on three specific aspects of conflict and conflict resolutionwithin marriages: conflict patterns,similarity and understanding, and repair strategies.            Conflict, asdefined in the article by Dunleavy, Goodboy, Booth-Butterfield, Sidelinger, andBanfield (2009), is “the interaction of interdependent people who perceiveincompatible goals and interference from each other in achieving those goals” (p.

72). It is first imparitive to acknowledge conflict as a natural occurrence inany relationship; on the other hand, conflict is still able to vary inseverity, frequency, and outcome. Outcome is the major factor of interest inthe research provided by Dunleavy et al. (2009), as a result of the distinctiveincrease in divorce as a means to terminating marriage relationships within theUnited States at a heightened level.              Conflicthas the opportunity to intensify relationships, if the two individuals allowfor a positive reaction to occur. Conflict that is managed well can further thedevelopment of healthy relationships, offer positive relational growth, and canlead to new forms of sharing, involvement, and problem resolution (Dunleavy etal., 2009). Conflict that in not managed correctly, will prevent these positiveresults from occurring if spouses engage in exchanges of hurtful messagesduring times of conflict.

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There is a negative correlation between maritalsatisfaction and conflict; this being noted, conflict also has significantimplications for individuals’ mental and physical health.             Dunleavy etal. (2009) mentioned that destructive conflict can lead to less directinteraction between spouses, partner avoidance, psychological pain and feelingsof resentment. Perceptions of one’s self and spouse serve a key role inmarital relationships (Segrin, Hanzal, & Domschke (2009). In their article,Acitelli, Douvan, and Veroff (1993) explored the relative importance, tomarital well-being, of partners’ understanding and similarities of conflictstyles. The researchers organized similarity into two separate categories –perceived similarity and actual similarity. According to this categorization,perceived similarity was discovered to be more than actual similarity withinmarriages, and was a stronger positive indicator for the well-being of themarriage relationship.

Perceived similarity is defined as when one person’sperception of the self and the perception of the spouse coincide. Within bothsituations of constructive and destructive conflict behaviors, the results ofAcitelli et al.’s (1993) research shows that perceived similarity betweenspouses was more than the actual similarity that existed. This was explained bythe false consensus effect, that people tend to overestimate commonness toassure themselves of the appropriateness or correctness of their own response,to protect their self-esteem and to validate their own preference. In thiscase, the response behavior in regards to conflict experienced with a spouse ina marital relationship was what individuals were attempting to positively “saveface” for the relationship, your spouse, and for yourself (Adler & ProctorII, 2011). It was found that as couples adjust to their shared reality in theirfirst year of marriage, spouses begin to adapt to “normalities” of arguing thatthey will characterize as typical for their relationship. Acitelli et al.

(1993), in congruence with Bradbury and Fincham (1987), perceived indicationsthat the more couples thought they were alike in regards to fighting, thebetter both spouses would feel about their marriage. Conflict resolution is extremely importantwhen dealing with relationships and interpersonal communication. Conflict canoccur in various forms of relationships, and how partners go about resolvingthese conflicts has, and will continue to have, a large effect on society andthe institution of marriage. Three major communication responses to this thesisof conflict resolution techniques were the matters of conflict patterns,similarity and understanding, and repair strategies. Negative conflictbehaviors are more easily recalled than those of positive or neutral behaviors,which emphasizes the magnitude of importance for resolving conflict in aneffective and positive manner, especially in a society where divorce is on arampant rise. And because negative conflict behaviors are so easily recalled,if not appropriately identified and handled, they can be damaging to theinterpersonal communication of the married couple for long term.

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