In the 31st installment of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, produced and hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Keith Sanford (Baylor University) discusses his recent research on how relationship conflict intensity affects whether or not the couple resolves the topic of that conflict.
The researchers asked 734 couples to focus on a recent conflict and answer questions regarding the types of negative behaviors they engaged in, the intensity of the fight, as well as any type of caring or “soft” emotions they might have used during the disagreement. Couples were also asked about how they currently felt about their relationship, including their current level of ongoing discord, when that discord peaked, and whether they had engaged in any attempts to repair the relationship.
There is a popular belief that “bad” fighting behaviors undermine relationship quality by escalating the conflict and delaying resolution. Dr. Sanford found this to generally be the case. But there was one very surprising finding in this study: for certain couples, neither their negativity during the disagreement nor the intensity of the conflict interfered with those couples’ ability to resolve the conflict. For these couples, more intense disagreements predicted clearer resolutions regardless of their fighting behaviors’ negativity. Are you curious which couples can fight intensely and still reach satisfying resolutions? Listen to the podcast here to find out the answer.