“Decades of marital research have demonstrated that the quality of couple communication plays crucial roles in shaping conjugal outcomes” (Driver, 2012). One of the downsides with not only marriage but also all of relationships is conflict. Conflict can be resolved easily if it is done in the right way. All couples have different strategies that they have found works for them. “Specifically, constructive conflict resolution strategies/styles such as direct communication, compromising, and soothing are positively related to marital quality (Wheeler, 2010), whereas destructive strategies/styles such as avoidance, attacking, and demand-withdraw often are negatively associated with marital quality (Marchand, 2000).” The Ottes and the Walkers both use constructive conflict resolution, but they have different strategies for conflicts specific to them.
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In the Journal of Family Relations, a study was done about how conflict resolution is formed. According to the study, how couples handle conflict will be established during the first year of marriage and those habits are often used throughout the rest of their life (Schneewind, 2002). The Walkers have only been married a year and a half. This means that they are forming communication habits that could last throughout their marriage. They said when they argue it never turns into a fight because they are very open with each other. They also said that being upfront and honest in every conflict that comes up tends to make problems easier to solve. Being married for 22 years, the Ottes have had more experience with needing good communication skills. With having kids and living together for 22 years, they have had many conflicts come up. They said that over the years, they have learned to let a lot of things go. Communication is important, but it is also important to know when not to communicate. Letting things go can resolve a problem just as talking about it can. These couples both have different reasons for good communication and they have found what ways work best for them.
Conflict #2: Financial Stability
Mr. Otte said love is important in marriages, but it is not enough to disregard the problems that life brings. Money is a common reason for fights and/or divorce. In the Journal of Marriage and Family, Christina Davis from Duke University says “Cohabitating couples who became poor were associated with a 37% decrease in marriage likelihood” (Gibson,2009). This can also be applied to marriage in the fact that it is harder to sustain a marriage with bad finances. The Walkers and the Ottes both have steady job incomes, but in the Journal of Family Relations a study was done that said financial well being was not associated with divorce but the financial disagreements associated with divorce (Drew,2012). Even though the Walkers and the Ottes have high incomes, they are not immune to divorce, because how you handle finances is the key to success.
Mr. and Mrs. Walker did not report ever arguing over money. This could have some to do with how long they have been married and their living conditions. Having 6 kids and a bigger house than the Walkers, it is necessary for the Ottes to do financial planning. They send 4 of their kids to a private school and their oldest child is at a University. They set aside a college fund a long time ago so that they could pay for their kids to go to college. They also take money every month out of the budget to pay for the private school bills. Two of their kids drive their own cars and they pay for gas. It seems impossible that they could pay all of these bills, but they do lots of financial planning and it started even before their kids were born. Though the Ottes have had more financial arguments than the Walkers, financial planning has been one thing that has kept them from having as much strain on their marriage.
Conflict #3: Religion
In the Journal of Family Issues it says that ”different aspects of religion involvement are positively associated with relationship satisfaction and expectations to marry among non married individuals (Henderson, 2018).” Both the Walkers and the Ottes are very religious couples. They also have similar views. Both of these couples are Christians and go to a church of Christ, but most importantly, they believe that divorce should only be present in the case of death of a spouse or adultery. This concept helps with commitment. Leaving when things get hard is not an option for these couples because they made a vow to stay married unless under certain circumstances. Having religion in their lives has also given the spouses common ground to base their marriage on. They enjoy going to church together and doing service activities. Religion is definitely a positive aspect in the lives of these couples.
Conflict #4: Parenting
The Journal of the California Graduate School of Family Psychology talks about how parents can have different perspectives when raising their kids, but how it shouldn’t always be viewed as a bad thing. Conflict can arise during partnership parenting, but it can actually be good for the household, which is good for the marriage. Partnership parenting offers a balanced way of life with more than one perspective on everything, even things such as how to put kids to bed and how to feed them. These different perspectives can benefit marriage when each partner appreciates the other partner’s contribution (Partnership Parenting 2009).
The Walkers have not had any kids yet so they haven’t had the task of parenting. Right now none of their conflicts have to do with kids. On the other hand, the Ottes have six kids. They parent by using each other’s contributions and appreciating the other partners help. Mr. and Mrs. Otte both rely on each other and they both have certain areas of parenting that they excel in. They both use their different strengths to be the best parents they can be. Conflict does arise during parenting, but if handled correctly, it can be beneficial for the household and the marriage.
Conflict #5: COHABITATION
The Journal of Family Psychology did a study where 1,050 participants reported their marital satisfaction in regards to cohabitation. “Those who cohabitated before engagement (43.1%) reported lower marital satisfaction, dedication, and confidence as well as more negative communication and greater potential for divorce (Rhoades, 2009).” The study also stated that the people who cohabitated after engagement did not exhibit these effects (Rhoades, 2009). The reason why the cohabitation effect did not apply to the engaged couples is because they had already committed to marry each other. Commitment is the key to not being susceptible to the cohabitation effect.
The Walkers and the Ottes didn’t move in together until they were married. The key to this is that they decided they were ready for commitment instead of sliding into a decision. Neither of these couples needed a trial to see if marriage was going to work. The problem with a trial marriage (cohabitation) is that you’ve already said you’re not sure if it’s going to work. Cohabitating couples slide into a decision instead of deciding. Even if this trial does not go very good, it is harder to break up when a couple is cohabitating. It’s harder to break up when things have to be moved and bills are being shared. It’s even harder if the cohabitating couple has a kid involved. Since it’s hard to break up after cohabitating, what ends up happening is that even if the trail doesn’t go very good, the couple slides into marriage. They start off their marriage with baggage from cohabitating, but they keep pushing through, ignoring all of the red flags that said they should break up. The couple can try to push through for as long as they can, but this usually ends up in divorce. The cohabitation effect doesn’t make sense, because logic is that trying out marriage first would be a prevention of divorce, but it doesn’t work that way. The cohabitation effect increases risk for divorce by giving marriage a rough start. The Walkers and the Ottes came into marriage with full commitment. Some of this commitment was also due to their religion, but this commitment was fully based on the confidence in their relationships. Both of these couples had already set in their mind that their marriage was going to work no matter how hard things got. That was a decided commitment, not a sliding one.
Examples Of Family Relations. (2022, Apr 11).
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