Domestic Bliss?

This column originally appeared in The Observer Magazine/Guardian Online

Do you often fight with your partner. Does it matter? Take the short questionnaire below to find out.

On a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree), how much do you agree with the following statements:

(a) My partner and I have a lot of disagreements

(b) I feel like all my partner and I do is fight

(c) There is a lot of conflict in my relationship

(d) I am often irritated by my partner

(e) My partner not only listens to what I am saying but really understands and seems to know where I am coming from

(f) “My partner nearly always knows exactly what I mean

5700

You might think that if you gave scores of 5 or more on questions (a)-(d) that your relationship is doomed. Actually, the findings of one recent study suggest that this is not necessarily the case. Although participants who often argued with their partners rated themselves as less satisfied with their relationship, this was only true if they also felt misunderstood (i.e., gave low scores to questions (e) and (f)). For participants who felt well understood by their partners, more frequent fights did not make for an unhappier relationship; as long as you feel that your partner understands you, arguments don’t matter. We don’t know exactly why this is, but it could be that understanding one another allows couples to resolve their conflicts more amicably, and perhaps even strengthen the relationship as a result, or just to realise that – despite their differences – they really do care about one another.

Gordon, A. M., & Chen, S. (2016). Do you get where I’m coming from?: Perceived understanding buffers against the negative impact of conflict on relationship satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology110(2), 239-260.

1 Comment

  1. No consideration given to knowing one’s own level of comfort with how conflict is expressed even before entering into a relationship? WELL before?

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