Effects of unresolved conflict on marital satisfaction and longevity

Running Head : EFFECTS OF UNRESOLVED CONFLICT Effects of Unresolved Conflict on Marital Satisfaction and Longevity Abstract Effects of Unresolved Conflict on Marital Satisfaction and Longevity Over the past decade , there has been tremendous interest in the processes in marriage , with a corresponding burgeoning of longitudinal studies on marriage (Bradbury , 1998 . Karney and Bradbury , in their 1995 review of the longitudinal research on marriage , included 115 studies consisting of 68 independent samples and more than 45 ,000 marriages . These studies give an in-depth understanding of when marital dissatisfaction sets in , how problems develop , and what leads to the consequence of marital dissolution . Longitudinal studies on the early years of marriage report a common phenomenon : Marital satisfaction declines and conflict increase (Huston Houts , 1998 Kurdek , 1998 Leonard Roberts , 1998 Lindahl et al ,1998 . Kurdek found that marital satisfaction for husbands and wives decreased over the first 6 years of marriage , with the steepest drop occurring in the first 2 years . Lindahl et al (1998 , in their 9 year study of the development of marriage , found a similar rend . Marital adjustment significantly declined during the first couple of years and then leveled out by approximately the third to fourth years . Several factors seem to account for this decline : commitment , conflict , and communication . In particular , husbands and wives low faith in the marriage at year 1 predicted both spouses long- term low marital satisfaction . Spouses with low faith at the start of the marriage may report low marital satisfaction 6 years later because they lack the motivation or the skill to engage in the kinds of relationship maintenance behaviors that foster high levels of satisfaction (e .g ,being accommodating during conflict , managing jealousy , and being willing to sacrifice . Many researchers attribute the decline in marital satisfaction in the early years to the couple ‘s transition to parenthood , and typically this factor has been a focus of their studies .However , this factor alone does not seem to account for the lower satisfaction , because many couples without children also experience a similar decline . The occurrence of conflict appears as another critical variable in the course of marital satisfaction . Conflict is inevitable in any intimate relationship . How it affects satisfaction depends on the extent to which couples engage in conflict or withdraw from it . There are usually short-term negative effects to engaging in conflict , but there are long-term positive effects . If conflict is not openly addressed but is avoided , there are issues that can be left unresolved and further fuel feeling of resentment and anger . In their longitudinal study of 33 couples , Noller and Feeney (1998 ) found that , during the first 2 years of marriage , less happy couples made concerted attempt to improve their relationships during the first yea of marriage , but gave up these efforts by the time of the third assessment in the study . Noller and Feeney suggested that these new behaviors to improve the relationship were not being reinforced by the partner and hence did not become an integral part of the behavior repertoire…

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