Communicating Emotion: Can Your Partner Read Your Mind During an Argument?

June 22nd, 2012

This post is written by:

Lindsey Backer-Fulghum
Graduate Student in Social Psychology
Baylor University

As a couple, you may experience some of your strongest emotions during a conflict with your partner. But how good are you and your partner at recognizing each other’s emotions? According to our recent research, couples do this fairly well. Partners are pretty good at distinguishing between hard emotions such as anger, irritation, annoyance, and aggravation and soft emotions such as sadness, hurt, disappointment, and concern. However, expressing and recognizing emotions during a conflict is a little more complicated than this.

Our research suggests the overall climate of a relationship is important in determining what emotions are expressed. If you and your partner have a climate of typically expressing anger during conflicts, then you are likely to express anger regardless of what you are currently feeling. On the other hand, if you have a climate of rarely expressing anger, then you may not express anger and it may go unnoticed.

Although anger may go undetected if not typically expressed, anger is much easier to detect than other negative emotions such as sadness. This is because people are much more sensitive to threatening emotions. From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense. You would benefit more from responding quickly to someone acting angry and threatening, compared to someone acting sad and who needs comfort. Our research shows that the angrier your partner is, the less sad they may appear. Interesting though, we found that couples were much better than trained observers at detecting sadness. Although couples and observers were equally likely to pick-up on anger and less likely to pick-up on sadness, couples were better at detecting sadness than observers.

Taking these findings together, couples are able to communicate emotions quite well during a conflict. Therefore, it seems as though couples may be able to read each other’s minds very well during an argument.

What did you expect?

December 2nd, 2010

In this picture, the husband might be interpreting his wife’s anger as a sign that she is likely to become adversarial and that she is unlikely to listen to his point of view. As a result, he may have negative expectancies. Of course, it looks like the wife also has a few negative expectancies of her own, which is probably why she became angry in the first place.

Do you ever pay attention to your own expectancies?  An expectancy is a prediction you make about something you think will happen in the future.  Whether you know it or not, every day, you make hundreds of expectancies.  For example, you may predict that a friend will return your greeting after you say “hi.”  One of the expectancies I often have is that my preschool aged daughter is likely to claim she is not tired after I tell her it is time for bed.  These expectancies are important because they influence what we do and how we act.  If you expect that your partner is likely to be appreciative, you might feel inspired to give a special gift.  If you expect that your partner is likely to forget something, you might decide to provide extra reminders. 

There are two things that are important to know about these expectancies.  First, they tend to have a particularly strong influence on our actions during times of relationship conflict.  Second, they are closely linked with emotion.  These things became readily apparent to me in a study I recently completed with a sample of about 80 married couples.  Each couple volunteered to participate in this research study and they visited my research lab for an assessment session.  At the lab, they first spent some time discussing a recent or current issue of conflict in their relationship.  Next, they took a break from their discussion to complete several questionnaires.  Finally, they spent some time discussing a different issue of relationship conflict.  In this study, I was especially interested in the negative expectancies that couples may sometimes have for each other.  So, just before each conversation, I asked partners to complete a questionnaire about their expectancies.  I asked them how they thought the conversation would go and I asked each partner what they thought the other was likely to do.  What did I find?

First, I found that if one partner became angry during the first conversation, the other partner was likely to have negative expectancies just prior to the second conversation.  This means that our expectancies are based on prior experience.  If your partner was recently angry in the past, you are likely to expect the worst from your partner in the future. 

Second, I found that when people had negative expectancies about their partners, they were likely to become angry themselves.  In fact, they tended to become angry regardless of what their partners actually did.  This means that if you have negative expectancies about your partner, there is a good chance you are also feeling angry.  Even when our expectancies turn out to be wrong, we tend to act as if they were true.  What does this mean?

This means that expectancies have the potential to pull couples into a trap.  When one partner gets angry, the other is likely to have negative expectancies.  These negative expectancies, in turn, can lead to more anger, which then, can lead to more negative expectancies.  So, does this mean that anger and negative expectancies are always bad?  Actually, the answer is “NO”!  Just because there is a danger of falling into a trap does not mean these things are bad.  In many cases (but not always), negative expectancies may be justified.  In many situations (but not always), the expression of anger is beneficial for a relationship.  So, the solution is NOT to avoid negative expectancies altogether (actually, this would be impossible). 

What, then, should couples do about negative expectancies?  The key is to develop good conflict resolution skills so that you and your partner can work together to escape from traps.  As described at the pairbuilder.com website, there are several different parts to conflict resolution.  In some situations, it may be best to reevaluate your own expectancies.  Other times, it may be best to find a tactful way to express your negative expectancies.  Often, to resolve conflict, both partners need to be willing to understand the other’s negative expectancies.  The cycle of negative expectancies and anger is a normal part of any intimate relationship.  It is natural for all couples to experience this cycle from time to time.  One key to a strong relationship is to be aware of this cycle when it happens, and to have the skills to escape from the trap when the cycle tries to pull you in.

Feeling sexy and marriage happiness

October 21st, 2010

This post is written by:

Natalie Nichols
Graduate Student in Clinical Psychology
Baylor University

Women: Do you think you’re sexy? The answer may be more important than you think.

A recent article published in the Journal of Family Psychology by Meltzer and McNulty describes a study that investigated how a woman’s body image affects her marital relationship.  Previous research has already shown that indeed, women who have a more positive body image tend to experience higher relationship satisfaction than women with poor body image.  The reason is this:

 1. Women with high self-esteem tend to be more confident that their partner accepts them and is committed to them, so they feel more comfortable taking “emotional risks.”  Emotional risks include sharing intimate thoughts and desires. 

2. Women that take more emotional risks are more likely to remain happy in their relationships because they tend to feel closer to their partners. 

3. Women with positive body image tend to also take more emotional risks.  For example, women with positive body image engage in more sexual behavior. Why?  Because they fear sexual rejection less than women with poor body image, so they desire, initiate, and engage in sex more often.

 4. Couples that have sex frequently tend to have more sexual satisfaction than couples that do not have sex very often.

 5. Higher sexual satisfaction tends to lead to higher relationship or marital satisfaction. 

Then, what does this new study have to say?  The authors basically identified what specific aspect of body image is responsible for this increase (or decrease) in women’s sexual satisfaction.  The authors divided body image into three things: sexual attractiveness, physical condition, and weight concern.  After giving more than 50 couples several questionnaires, the authors found that how a woman perceived herself sexually—that is, how sexually attractive she believed she was, was the only component of body image that affected marital satisfaction.  So, it goes like this: 1. A woman thinks she is sexually attractive, so 2. She feels more confident about having sex with her husband (perhaps more often), so 3. The couple enjoys more sexual satisfaction, so 4. They are also more satisfied with their marriage in general. 

Another important finding to note: Wives’ perceived sexual attractiveness ultimately affects not only their own marital satisfaction, but their husband’s, too.  In fact, wives’ perceptions of their sexual attractiveness accounted for 6 percent of their husband’s marital satisfaction and 19 percent of their own marital satisfaction.

Moral of the story: In assessing your own marital issues, you may consider thinking about your sexual relationship.  Wives, how confident are you in your sexual attractiveness?  If you tend to have negative feelings, such as shame or dissatisfaction, with your body, you may be more anxious about sex.  As shown in this study, this anxiety can ultimately lead to reduced sexual satisfaction, and ultimately less marital satisfaction for both of you. 

Reference:

Meltzer, A. L. & McNulty, J.  K. (2010).  Body Image and Marital Satisfaction: Evidence for the Mediating Role of Sexual Frequency and Sexual Satisfaction.  Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 156-164. 

 

Dodo Bird Advice for Couples

August 20th, 2010

The dodo bird might be able to tell us something about building a strong marriage. To explain why this is, I first need to tell you something about what researchers have found in studies investigating how much couples actually benefit from getting couples counseling. There are a few different well-established techniques for doing couples counseling (these techniques have names like integrative behavioral couple therapy, emotionally focused couple therapy, and insight oriented couple therapy), and each counselor usually believes that his or her own chosen technique is the best. Studies have been conducted that are like contests between the different techniques, testing them to determine which technique works best. Often, these studies end up finding that all the techniques are effective. Psychologists sometimes call this the dodo bird effect, named after the dodo bird from the book, Alice in Wonderland. In the book, Alice joins a seemingly endless circular race, which ends when the dodo bird declares “All have won and all must receive prizes.”

The thing we learn from this is that, sometimes, it does not matter what you do, just as long as you are still in the race. Why is it that several different approaches to couple therapy have all been found to be helpful? Part of the reason might be that all the approaches tested in these studies are programs that were developed by experienced clinical researchers. But, another more important part of the reason is that, when couples start therapy, they are taking steps to improve their relationship. They are investing time and making an effort. The type of therapy they receive may not be as important as the fact that they are actively doing something for their relationship. Of course, this basic lesson can apply to all types of relationships, and not just couples in counseling. It can be used to make a good relationship better, or to help a new couple build a secure relationship strong enough to last a lifetime.

So, what can we learn from the dodo bird? The important thing is not so much what technique you use to make your relationship strong, but rather, whether or not you actually invest time and effort in any technique to make your relationship strong. Don’t forget to do something today to invest in your relationship. Regardless of what you do, chances are, you will receive the prize.

The challenge of providing marriage help

August 20th, 2010

What is the biggest challenge to helping married couples build strong relationships? Over the last several decades, researchers have discovered many new findings about what makes relationships work, and we now know quite a bit about what couples can do to establish happy partnerships that will last a lifetime. But, it is not enough simply to know what couples need to do to have good relationships. The biggest challenge is getting couples to actually do the things that are best for their relationships. Even when people know about what they can do to make their relationships stable and strong, they often fail to do those things. I have seen this time and time again in my work as a marriage researcher and clinician. If I give a couple some advice about something they could do to make their relationship better, they often respond by saying, “That’s a great idea,” or sometimes they say, “Of course, I knew that all along.” But, it is somewhat rare for a couple to actually follow the advice they receive.

This is, of course, just part of human nature. As humans, it is normal for us to fail to do things that we know would be good for us. This is especially true when it comes to building a lifetime partnership with one’s mate. Even though a good relationship can be an essential part of a life that is meaningful and rewarding, we often take our relationships for granted. There are three primary reasons that couples often fail to do the things they need to make their relationships great.

First, many couples neglect their relationship simply because they are not currently experiencing any relationship problems. This is unfortunate, because the best time to work on one’s relationship is at the time when everything seems to be going great. It is much easier for happy couples to learn the skills they need to keep their relationships healthy for a lifetime than it is for distressed couples to fix a relationship after troubles have already developed. The problem is that, when couples are not experiencing any problems, they do not feel motivated to work on their relationship.

The second reason that many couples fail to work on their relationship is actually the opposite of the first. Many couples neglect their relationship because they ARE having problems. Couples often wait until after they have begun having some difficulties before they recognize the need to work on their relationship. But, once problems have developed, the work becomes harder. To build strong relationship skills, partners need to take an objective look at their own thoughts and actions, show understanding for each other, and develop tactful forms of communication. These are all things that can be extremely difficult for partners to do when they are angry with each other. Once problems develop in a relationship, many couples find that they are too upset to do the things that would make their relationship better.

The top reason that couples fail to work on their relationship, however, is that for many people, it simply feels too awkward or threatening. As humans, we like to think that we are valued and admired by others, and that we have excellent relationship skills. As a result, it is natural for us to feel somewhat threatened by the possibility of discovering areas in need of improvement. In addition, relationship work often involves trying out new ways of communicating that may seem silly or unnatural, or it may involve discussing uncomfortable topics. Sometimes, people think that, if they are working on their relationship, it must mean there is something wrong. For many couples, then, the process of working on their relationship simply feels too strange or too intimidating.

To build a strong relationship, couples need two things. First they need information on what they can do to make their relationship the best it can be. Second, they need the motivation to do those things. Although both parts are important, the most difficult part is having the motivation to take action. Of course, this is something that each person has to decide for himself or herself. The tools for building strong relationships are available to many couples, but only some will choose to use those tools.

Study Finds Two Reasons Why Couples Fight

July 26th, 2010

An article recently published in the journal Psychological Assessment describes a series of studies I conducted to identify couples’ underlying concerns during conflicts. As described in the Couple Conflict Consultant resource bank, there are two basic types of underlying concern that appear to drive the majority of conflicts between partners. During a conflict, your underlying concern is your fundamental reason for feeling upset. It is the fuel that gives the conflict heat.

This recently published research was based on several thousand married participants, and in this research, I used a statistical procedure called factor analysis to study the words people use when they describe a conflict with a spouse. By analyzing how different types of words tend to be used together, I discovered that most conflicts boil down to just two basic underlying concerns: perceived threat and perceived neglect. Your underlying concern is a perceived threat when you believe you are being unfairly blamed, controlled, attacked, or criticized. Your underlying concern is a perceived neglect when you believe your partner is failing to make a desired contribution to the relationship.

To resolve conflict, it is important for each partner to recognize his or her underlying concerns. One way to do this is to complete a free assessment using the Couple Conflict Consultant. The assessment results will include scores for both perceived threat and perceived neglect and they are based on the same scales that were used in the recently published research article. I recommend that couples complete an assessment after every relationship conflict. By getting repeated feedback on your underlying concerns, you will eventually develop an ability to quickly and accurately recognize these concerns whenever they occur.

The reference for the above study is:

Sanford, K. (2010). Perceived threat and perceived neglect: Couples’ underlying concerns during conflict. Psychological Assessment, 22, 288-297.

The study was also summarized at the following websites:

Science Daily

Web MD

Avatar: Did Jake and Neytiri live happily ever after?

July 16th, 2010

In the movie Avatar, Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington) takes a spaceship to the planet Pandora where he joins an exploration program that is part scientific experiment and part military reconnaissance. He takes on the form of a native Na’vi creature, infiltrates a Na’vi society, and relays information back to a military commander. The story gets complicated, however, when he falls in love with a Na’vi woman, Neytiri (played by Zoe Saldana), and he gradually comes to appreciate the value of Na’vi culture. Eventually, Jake and Neytiri join together as partners. Their happiness is cut short, though, when Neytiri learns about Jake’s secret military connections. Neytiri feels betrayed and becomes furious. Thus, Jake and Neytiri find themselves embroiled in a severe relationship conflict.

By analyzing how a couple handles conflict, we can make a prediction about whether their relationship is likely to survive. To analyze the conflict between Jake and Neytiri, the first step is to identify Neytiri’s underlying concern. What is the real reason that she felt upset? What is the true reason for this conflict? In this case, Neytiri’s underlying concern would most likely be a “perceived neglect.” A perceived neglect is a basic underlying concern that occurs when a person believes that his or her partner has failed to show a desired level of commitment in the relationship, which can include anything from dishonesty to forgetting to take out the trash. In the movie, Jake kept secrets about his military connections. Neytiri interpreted this as indicating a lack of commitment and sincerity on his part. Lashing out in anger, Neytiri rejects Jake, and leaves him to die.

In many ways, Neytiri’s hostility, here, is mismatched with her true underlying concern. Although, on the outside, she is hostile and adversarial, it is likely that, deep down, she feels sad and hurt. If she is feeling sad and hurt, she probably has a yearning for comfort and wishes she could trust Jake. What she really desires, then, is a type of closeness and safety that can be found only in an honest relationship. But, Neytiri could not see past her anger to recognize what she truly felt and wanted. She was hostile instead of sad. This is a common type of protective response people use to maintain a sense of being strong and self-sufficient. If Neytiri had expressed her feelings of sadness, she would have risked appearing weak and needy, and this was a risk that she was apparently not willing or not able to take. So, although Neytiri’s expression of anger did not match her underlying concern, her anger makes psychological sense.

As can happen only in the movies, Jake’s response to Neytiri was somewhat unrealistic. Specifically, it was surprising that he did not become angry himself. In real life, it would have been normal for Jake to feel threatened by Neytiri’s hostility, and for Jake to launch a defensive counter attack. In a typical conflict, a person in Jake’s situation would have accused Neytiri of overreacting and blamed her for having a judgmental attitude that only contributed to problem. This would then make the conflict escalate, with each partner trading threats and accusations. Regardless of whether Neytiri’s anger was reasonable or justified, a normal person in Jake’s position would find it extremely difficult to see her viewpoint after receiving her hostile attack. If Jake were a real person, the most likely response would be for him to fight back.

But, perhaps because Jake was desperately seeking to save the Na’vi people from destruction, he did not become angry, and instead sought to fix the situation. He undertook an extremely dangerous mission in order to demonstrate his loyalty to Neytiri, to prove his worthiness as a partner, and to show his commitment to the Na’vi people. While this made for a compelling movie plot, in real life, it probably would have failed to resolve the conflict between Jake and Neytiri.

The problem, here, is that Jake’s decision to pursue a dangerous mission was entirely one-sided. Without any dialogue with Neytiri, Jake came to his own conclusion about what he thought Neytiri was feeling, and by himself, he made his own judgment about what would make her happy. But, without dialogue, true understanding cannot occur. Jake never learned from Neytiri about her sad and hurt feelings, or what it was that she most wanted from him. Likewise, Neytiri never learned from Jake why he kept secrets from her, or how he felt about it afterwards. Without this type of dialogue, Neytiri would be left with questions about why Jake undertook his dangerous mission. Was he sincere? Did he have ulterior motives? Would he ever keep secrets again? Did he really understand why she felt hurt? In real life, partners usually make conflicts worse when they make assumptions about what they think each other is feeling and wanting. To resolve conflicts, dialogue is necessary. Although this type of dialogue might not be good in an action movie, it is certainly important in real life relationships.

So, did Jake and Neytiri live happily ever after? If they were real people, it would probably depend on whether they made some changes in their relationship. Neytiri would need to express vulnerable emotions, and Jake would need to engage in two-way dialogue. Of course, because anything can happen in a movie, they probably lived happily ever after regardless.

Conflict Management: Four Parts

June 5th, 2010

There are four basic parts to good conflict management. This post provides a very brief overview of these four parts. The Couple Conflict Consultant provides an extensive bank of information for each of the areas listed below.

The first part of conflict management is being able to identify underlying concerns. When couples have conflict, underlying concerns are the real reason they feel upset. The concern is the fuel that keeps their conflict burning. This means that, if they resolve the underlying concern, they will have resolved the conflict. More often than not, couples are unaware of their true underlying concerns, and this makes it extremely difficult to resolve conflict. When you have conflict, do you know what your primary underlying concerns are?

My research has found that most conflicts boil down to only one of two basic underlying concerns. These concerns are called perceived threat and perceived neglect. A perceived threat is when you think that your partner is criticizing you, or blaming you, or trying to control you. A perceived neglect is when you think that your partner not showing enough commitment, or is failing to make a desired contribution to your relationship. To resolve conflict, couples need to be aware of their concerns and they need to find a tactful way to express them.

The second part to conflict resolution is being able to manage your emotions so that your emotions help your reach your goals. My research has identified three types of emotion that are especially common during conflict. I call them hard emotion (feeling angry) soft emotion (feeling sad) and flat emotion (feeling bored). During a conflict, each emotion motivates you to take a different course of action, and each emotion communicates a different message to your partner. It is easiest to resolve conflict, then, when you experience the best emotion for reaching your goals in a given situation. To do this, you need to be aware of your emotions and you need to be clear about your goals. Importantly, the point here is NOT to eliminate emotion. Indeed, humans are emotional creatures. This means it would be both unrealistic and foolish to ignore your emotions. Rather, the thing to do is to manage your emotions so they work for you rather than against you.

The third part to conflict resolution involves communication. To resolve conflict, couples need to express thoughts and ideas tactfully, and to carefully listen and understand what the other has to say. I call this type of communication collaborative engagement. In contrast to collaborative engagement, there are three types of communication that often add heat to conflict interactions. The most common is called adversarial engagement, where couples are critical, blaming, attacking, and defensive. The final two types of communication include retreat, where couples try to avoid conflict, and passive engagement, where couples use an indirect communication to address a conflict. It is important to note that it is normal for couples to use all four of these types of communication. Even the happiest couples use adversarial engagement from time to time. Moreover, each type of communication may have a time and a place where it is appropriate. On some occasions, passive engagement may be the best option. At the same time, if couples want to resolve a conflict, at some point, they will likely need to begin using collaborative engagement. Without collaborative engagement, conflicts are unlikely to reach a satisfying resolution.

The fourth part has to do with the thoughts couples have during conflict. When you have conflict, you are likely to have many thoughts running through your mind. There are three types of thoughts that are especially important. The first is called negative attributions. These include thoughts where you blame your partner for causing a conflict. The second is called negative expectancies. These are where you make a prediction that your partner will do something bad in the future. The third is called partner understanding. This is a positive type of thought where you see things from your partner’s perspective. All three of these types of thoughts can have a powerful force in determining the course of a conflict. So, it is important to be aware of your thoughts, to evaluate your thoughts, and to change your thoughts when you want to do so.

As you can see, there are several important parts to conflict resolution. It takes a substantial investment of time and effort for couples to learn about each of these areas, and to develop skills in each of these areas. But then, things that are worthwhile rarely come easily.

Marital Advice

June 5th, 2010

What is the best advice for married couples? What do couples need to do to make their relationships strong? I answer these questions from the point of view of a clinical research psychologist, having conducting more than 20 years of studies with thousands of married couples. In contrast to many popular books on relationships that are currently available, my advice is not “one-size-fits-all.” Relationships are complex, and every couple is unique. This means that good advice for one couple may be bad advice for another. To give good advice to married couples, I need to ask them three basic questions.

Question 1: Is your relationship mostly satisfying, or is it currently distressed?

At one point or another, well over half of all relationships go through a stormy season of distress. If you are happy with your partner, then realize you have something precious and take good care of it. If you are experiencing some distress, the first step is to determine whether you are experiencing a major relationship trauma. Major traumas includes things like: (1) problems with alcohol or other drugs, (2) physical violence in the home, (3) one partner no longer wants to stay in the relationship, (4) an affair, and (5) problems with clinical depression. These types of traumas demand immediate attention, and they need to be addressed (possibly with professional help) before a couple can make progress in other areas of their relationship. Of course, couples can become distressed without a major trauma. The good news, here, is that when couples make a commitment to work together on their relationship, and if they stick with it for a sufficient period of time, it is relatively common for unhappy relationships to recover.

Question 2: What do you do to make things good in your relationship?

Most relationships are naturally exciting when they first begin. If a couple wants to maintain a lifelong partnership, however, each partner needs to take responsibility to do things that make the relationship strong and healthy. These are the things you do, and the contributions you make, to keep your relationship fun and rewarding for both you and your partner. This takes work, and will not always come naturally. In addition, it requires negotiation. The things that are important for one person may not be important for another, and each couple needs to decide for themselves what they value most. Are you intentionally doing things that make your relationship good for both you and your partner? If yes, then keep up the good work. If, however, your efforts do not seem to be paying off, or if you are not sure what to do, then my advice is to discuss these issues with your partner. Or, if you are simply not making a sincere effort in this area, it would be good to figure out why. Often, couples lose motivation to work on their relationship when they have problems with an unresolved conflict. In this case, an important piece of the equation is to develop better conflict management skills. This leads us to the third question.

Question 3: Are you using conflict as a tool to make your relationship better?

Notice that this third question is not asking whether you have conflict in your relationship. Indeed, all relationships experience conflict from time to time. What is important, then, is not how much conflict you have, but rather, how you manage the conflict you do have. Conflict is actually essential for producing intimacy in a relationship – without it, a relationship would be dry and shallow. When a conflict is resolved well, it brings two partners closer together, it results in a deeper, shared understanding between them, and it produces mutual respect and appreciation. Unfortunately, when conflict is not managed well, it can tear a relationship apart. So, what does it take to manage conflict?

There are four basic parts to good conflict management. These include (1) being aware of your true underlying concerns during conflict, (2) managing emotion, (3) using good communication, and (4) monitoring your thoughts. If you are not familiar with these four basic parts of conflict management, the first step is to learn about them.

Also, when you have conflict, it is important to get feedback on how you are doing in each area. The same thing would be true for an athlete in training for an important sports event. Several different skills are needed to become an outstanding athlete, and an athlete needs continual feedback from a coach to develop these skills. Each athlete may have different strengths and weaknesses. A coach helps the athlete know what is working well, and where he or she needs improvement. In this way, the athlete can create an individualized training program that capitalizes on strengths, builds up weaknesses, and produces the best results possible. The same thing is true for developing good conflict resolution skills. Couples develop the best skills if they get feedback on how they are doing in each area. In this way, they can create an individualize plan on were to focus their efforts. Just like an athlete in training, results do not happen overnight. It takes time to build outstanding conflict resolution skills. It is possible to become highly effective at resolving conflicts with your partner, but this requires getting repeated feedback over a long period of time, and it requires making a long-term effort toward honing and refining your skills. For couples that invest this effort, the payoff can be great. These couples are able to resolve their conflicts, and this leads to greater intimacy, better communication, and a stronger relationship.

Additional resources

See the post: Four Areas of Conflict Resolution

The Couple Conflict Consultant provides a large resource bank of information on conflict resolution, and it offers thorough, scientifically-based assessments and feedback. You can learn more about the areas of conflict resolution, assess your skills, develop an individualized plan, and track your progress over time. Everything is provided entirely free of charge as part of my research program. If you have not yet tried it, all you need is an e-mail address to begin.

New Blog

June 5th, 2010

This is the first post for the new Pairbuilder.com blog.

More entries will follow soon.

Pairbuilder.com is the home of the Couple Conflict Consultant, a free program, based on scientific research, that helps couples build strong skills in communication and conflict resolution.