After attraction comes the stage of building: Positive factors: in building a relationship include matching physical attractiveness, attitudinal similarity, and mutual positive evaluations. Negative factors include major differences in physical attractiveness, attitudinal dissimilarity, and mutual negative evaluations.
Opening lines: how to get things started. Can be a greeting, or opening line.
Surface contact: According to Levinger, this phase of the relationship finds us seeking common ground and testing mutual attraction. Small talk: A superficial form of conversation that allows people to seek common ground to determine whether they wish to pursue a relationship. Self-Disclosure: Opening up is central to building intimate relationships. Just make sure to be a “late discloser” rather than an “early discloser.” Early disclosure – less mature, less secure, less well adjusted and more phony. Pursue late disclosers rather than early.
Mutual cyclical growth: A process by which commitment and trust in a relationship develop. According to this view, needing one’s partner encourages individuals to do things that are good for the relationship, which is perceived by the partner and encourages him or her to also develop commitment and trust.
Mutual cyclical growth occurs within an environment of trust. Trust usually builds gradually as partners learn whether it is safe to share confidences. Caring: An emotional bond that allows intimacy to develop. Mutuality: According to Levinger, a phase of the relationship in which two people think of themselves as “we.”
While deterioration is the fourth stage, it is not inevitable. Positive factors that can prevent deterioration are investing time and effort in the relationship, working at improving the relationship, and being patient. Negative factors that can lead to deterioration include lack of investment of time and effort in the relationship, deciding to end the relationship, or simply allowing deterioration to continue unchecked.
Making relationships work
Gottman and Krokoff followed marriages for 3 years and found that the following had long-term destructive effects. Being defensive or making excuses instead of accepting responsibility of problems Making countercharges for every charge, without indicating that partners views may have some validity. Telling partners what they should stop doing, and not what they should do more often Erroneously accusing partners of bad feelings, ideas, or motives that they don’t really have – and then blaming them for these feelings, ideas, or motives. Being stubborn; refusing to accept compromises Making contemptuous remarks or insults Whining
Relationships are hard work…here are some techniques to address them. I will need 6 volunteers who would like to act out a scene. As a class we will discuss alternative and healthier ways to address the conflict. Challenge Irrational Expectations: Believe that any disagreement is destructive and the end of the relationship. Believe that the partner should be able to read their minds (and know what they want), that their partners cannot change, that they must be perfect sex partners, and that men and women differ dramatically in personalityand needs. Negotiate differences. In order to effectively negotiate differences about household responsibilities, leisure-time preferences, and so on, each spouse must be willing to share the power in the relationship. If there is an imbalance, the disadvantaged spouse may not be heard, resentments may build and the relationship may eventually dissolve. Research has shown that gay and lesbian couples tend to assign tasks more fairly than heterosexual couples. A good way to handle this is to list day-to-day responsibilities. It rational and adjustive to a marriage for partners to recognize that no two people can agree all the time, to express their wishes rather than depend on “mind reading” to believe that we all can change (although change may come slowly) , to tolerate some sexual blunders and frustrations, and to treat each other as equals. Destructive: Being defensive or making excuses instead of accepting responsibility for problems. Contract for exchanging new behaviors. In exchange contracting, you and your partner identify specific behaviors that you would like to see changed, and you offer to modify some of your own disturbing behavior patterns in exchange. Ex. Chris: I agree to talk to you at the dinner table rather than watch the news on TV if you in turn help me type my business reports one evening a week. Dana: I agree never to insult your mother if you in return absolutely refuse to discuss our sexual behavior with her.
Talk about talking – explain to your partner that its hard to talk about your conflicts. Perhaps you can refer to some of the things that have happened in the past when you tried to resolve conflicts. Request permission to raise a topic. You can say: “Something’s been on my mind. Is this a good time to bring it up?” or try, “I need to get something off my chest, but I really don’t know how to start. Will you help me?” How to listen: this is an essential part of communicating. Active listening – How do you know someone is actively listening? maintain eye contact, facial expression that shows empathy, nod head as appropriate and ask helpful questions “could you give an example of what you mean? Or “how did you feel about that?” Paraphrasing: recast what they are saying to show that you understand. How would you paraphrase this: “Last night it really bugged me when I wanted to talk about the movie but you were on the phone”? (It seemed that I should have known that you wanted to talk about the movie: or It seems that I’m talking more to other people than to you. Reinforce your partner: even if you don’t agree, you can genuinely say something like “I’m glad you told me how you really feel about that”. Or “look, even if I don’t always agree with you, I care about you and I always want you to tell me what you’re thinking.” Unconditional positive regard: when you disagree do so in a way that shows that you still value your partner as a person. “I love you very much but it bugs me when you…” rather than “you’re rotten for…”
Closed ended questions: offer concrete information but open ended encourages exploration of broader issues. (Do you think I don’t values your opinions about cars? Vs. What are your feelings about where we live?. Self-disclosure: modeling; reciprocation. “you know, I have to admit that I get concerned when you call your folks from work, I get the feeling that there are things that you want to talk about with them but not have me know about…” Give your partner permission: Tell you partner to level with you about a troublesome issue. Say you realize that it might be clumsy to talk about it, but you promise to try to listen carefully without getting to o upset. Consider limiting communication to say one difficult issue per conversation. Be specific: “be nicer to me” What does that mean? “Please don’t cut me off in the middle of a sentence.”
Evaluate your motives: do you want to change the behavior or do you just want to punish your partner? If you want to resolve conflicts, be more diplomatic. Don’t use guilt or fear. Good time and place: express complaints privately not in front of people. If you’re not sure if it’s the right time, try asking “something’s on my mind. Is this a good time to bring it up?” Be specific: by being specific you can communicate what behavior upsets you. Don’t insult your partner’s personality. “Please write down messages for me” rather than “you’re totally irresponsible” Express dissatisfaction: “you know, it upsets me when something that’s important to me gets lost, or misplaced” not “you never think about anybody but yourself”. Complaints to the present: “This was a very important phone call” rather than “last summer you didn’t write the message from the computer company and as a result I didn’t get the job”. Bringing up past muddles the current issue and heightens feelings of anger. Phrase positively: Phrase positively and combine with a specific request. “you know, you’re usually very considerate. When I need help, I always feel free to ask for it. Now I’m asking for help when I get a phone call. Will you please write down the message for me?
Also there is a difference between healthy criticism and verbal abuse. Ways to take criticism: Ask clarifying questions – help them be specific. If your partner criticizes you for spending too much time with your parents, “Is it that I’m spending too much time with them, or do you feel they’re having too much influence on me?” Paraphrase the criticism – paraphrase to show you understand Acknowledge your mistake, if you have made a mistake – ack even if you do not agree by saying “I hear you” or “I can understand that you’re upset that I’ve been investing so much time in the job lately” Negotiate differences – Unless you feel that your partner is completely in the wrong, perhaps you can seek ways to negotiate your differences. “Would it help if I…”
When you are at an impasse you can also: Try to see the situation from your partner’s perspective – “I don’t agree with you, but I can see where you’re coming from” validates and helps decrease tension Seek validating information – “I’m trying, but I honestly can’t understand why you feel this way. Can you help me understand?” Take a break – allow the problem to incubate frequently helps. Tolerate differences – Recognize that each of you is a unique individual and that you cannot agree on everything. Agree to disagree – we can survive as individuals and as partners even when some conflicts remain unresolved.
While deterioration is the fourth stage, it is not inevitable. Positive factors that can prevent deterioration are investing time and effort in the relationship, working at improving the relationship, and being patient.
Negative factors that can lead to deterioration include lack of investment of time and effort in the relationship, deciding to end the relationship, or simply allowing deterioration to continue unchecked.
Factors that can contribute to avoidance of a relationship ending are finding sources of satisfaction, people who are committed to making the relationship work, or who believe that they will eventually overcome their problems.
According to social-exchange theory, relationships end when negative forces are in sway (when partners find little satisfaction in the affiliation, when barriers to leaving are low and when alternative partners are available.)
What factors contribute to relationship satisfaction?
Communication ability is a prime factor in satisfying relationships. Other factors include spending focused time together, sharing values, flexibility, sharing power, physical intimacy, emotional closeness, empathy and sexual satisfaction.
While it may seem that everyone has an affair, recent studies show that only 25% of husbands and 10% of wives will have an affair (however, it is likely that the incidence of affairs is underreported).
At the same time, 86% of respondents to a New York Times poll were “absolutely certain” that their spouses were faithful.
Singlehood is the nation’s most common lifestyle among people in their early to mid-twenties.
There has been an increase in the number of never-married adults over the past 40 years. In 1950, 20% of women and 26% of men aged fifty or older had never been married. By 1999, 25% of women and 30% of men aged 50 and older had never been married.
So while most people still get married, but the traditional family unit is becoming less common (traditional family comprises of 24% of family households versus 40% in 1970).