The research is aimed at testing the hypothesis that communication plays a critical role in the prevention of marital distress. The key question resides in whether communication techniques can be effective in terms of improving marital relationships. The study has a qualitative design and bases on the content analysis of the information collected through a specifically worked-out survey. The sample group composed of six couples married for no more than five years. Each couple has had experience in completing a communication program for marital prevention. The findings showed that all the participants managed to improve their marital relationships through communication and continue using the gained skills in their everyday lives for resolving conflict situations.
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On the face of it, marital distress is the sort of experience that every couple is apt to undergo at a certain point in the married life. In the meantime, it turns out that this experience can be excessively challenging for some espousals. Hence, recent research has shown that marital distress is one of the most typical reasons for divorces in America (Birditt, Brown, Orbuch, & McIlvane, 2013). Thus, the fact that marital distress is a critical problem that needs to be timely addressed seems to be undoubted.
Modern psychology puts a particular emphasis on the positive effect of communication in terms of marital conflicts. Thus, Segrin and Flora (2011) believe that “communication is at the heart of most cases of marital distress” – the statement that seems to assign both positive and negative implications to the communication process (237). Otherwise stated, communication might be the core root of the problem as well as its key solution. As a result, it is assumed that effective communication strategies can be assistive in coping with marital distress, whereas, negative patterns, on the contrary, are likely to increase the tension and stress within a family environment.
It is essential to note that the problem of marital distress and its roots are widely elucidated in the scientific literature. Numerous studies have been carried out in order to identify both the main causes of marital distress and the alternative solutions that can resolve the problem efficiently. The major part of experts agrees on the point that marital distress is the result of the wrong communication patterns that partners employ. As well as any behavioral patterns, negative communication patterns incorporate in the partners’ everyday life inciting the same conflicts to repeat over and over again. As a result, the solution seems to reside in improving these patterns and implementing positive communication strategies.
First and foremost, it is critical to find scientific evidence of the interconnection between marital distress and communication. Experts tend to believe that such interconnection does not only exists but proves to be highly strong. Hence, for instance, a group of researchers from Denver has carried out a study examining how different types of communication patterns are associated with marital distress.
This study employs various behavioral measurements of both different communication styles in order to assess the change in marital relationships. According to the researchers, the early developed patterns of negative communication essentially signify later problems as these patterns tend to endure (Markman, Rhoades, Stanley, Ragan, & Whitton, 2012). Therefore, this study provides scientific justification for the existence of the cause-effect relations between communication and marital distress.
It should be noted that Markman et al. are not the only researchers that believe that there is a strong interconnection between communication and marital distress. Thus, some experts assume that poor communication skills are the key reason for divorces. Hence, for example, a group of Californian researchers has carried out a study showing that divorcing couples are more likely to display negative communication in comparison with those couples who do not divorce (Lavner & Bradbury, 2012). In other words, the examined problem proves to be particularly acute as the lack of proper treatment might lead to the inevitable consequences – whereas marital distress can be possibly overcome, a divorce signifies the complete failure of the entire marital project. Therefore, this research shows that it is critical that the problem of marital distress is timely addressed.
Therefore, it might be assumed that poor communication is the cause of marital distress, while positive communication strategy is, consequently, the alternative solution to this problem. From this perspective, it is critical to analyze those studies that examine the positive impact that effective communication practices might have on the resolution of marital problems.
Recent research has tried to address the problem by putting an emphasis on examining marital distress in full-employed couples. The findings show that it is destructive communication that provokes the major part of conflicts between partners. The key focus is put on the fact that poor communication is the result of the shortage of relevant knowledge. Hence, the authors assume that teaching communication skills are essential for reducing the number of conflicts in families (Carroll, Hill, Yorgason, Larson, & Sandberg, 2013). Therefore, it is the first scientific evidence of the effectiveness of proper communication in coping with the problem of marital distress.
The question, consequently, arises regarding the particular methods that can be employed to avoid marital distress. From this perspective, recent research, aimed at examining the effectiveness of the so-called “relationship workshops,” seems to be particularly valuable. Thus, a group of American researchers decided to estimate the impact that relationship workshops have on general marital satisfaction. It is essential to point out that the workshop’s program puts a particular emphasis on the communication patterns that partners use in their everyday life. In the course of the study, the researchers came to the conclusion that those couples that completed the course’s program and improved their communication skills reported higher satisfaction with their marriage than they had before the workshop (Schmidt, Luquet, & Gehlertc, 2015). Therefore, it might be suggested that well-planned interventions are required in order to avoid marital distress.
Scientific research proves that even a minor intervention in the communication strategy might have a positive impact on marital relationships. Hence, a recent experiment offered the participants to reconsider the communication patterns they employed in the course of the latest conflicts. According to the results, the major part of the participants reported on the improvements in the marital environment after the correction of their communicational strategies in conflict situations (Finkel, Slotter, Luchies, Walton, & Gross, 2013). This experiment shows that communication practices should be an integral component of the programs aimed at improving marital relationships.
It should, likewise, be noted that numerous studies focus specifically on assessing the effectiveness of more complex preventative programs. Thence, for instance, recent research has examined the results of primary prevention of marital distress. The program implies developing communicational skills that are supposed to help partners resolve conflicts and cope with misunderstanding. The obtained findings show that the couples that have completed the program find fewer difficulties in coping with conflict situations than those that have not received the special training (Rogge, Cobb, Lawrence, Johnson, & Bradbury, 2013). The key value of this research resides in the fact that it was carried out among the newly formed couples. In other words, the main aim of the study was to show that it is better to address the problem of marital communication at the earliest stages.
As a result, it might be concluded that the current scientific literature offers an explicit description of the interconnection between communication and marital distress while the preventative programs need to be further investigated.
Birditt, K.S., Brown, E., Orbuch, T.L., & McIlvane, J.M. (2013). Marital Conflict Behaviors and Implications for Divorce over 16 Years. Journal of Family and Marriage, 72(5), 1188-1204.
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Carroll, S.J., Hill, E.J., Yorgason, J.B., Larson, J.H., & Sandberg, J.G. (2013). Couple communication as a mediator between work–family conflict and marital satisfaction. Contemporary Family Therapy, 35(3), 530-545.
Finkel, E.J., Slotter, E.B., Luchies, L.B., Walton, G.M., & Gross, J.J. (2013). A Brief Intervention to Promote Conflict Reappraisal Preserves Marital Quality Over Time. Psychological Science, 24(8), 1595-1601.
Lavner, J.A., & Bradbury, T.N. (2012). Why do even satisfied newlyweds eventually go on to divorce? Journal of Family Psychology, 26(1), 1-10.
Markman, H.J., Rhoades, G.K., Stanley, S.M., Ragan, E.P., & Whitton, S.W. (2012). The premarital communication roots of marital distress and divorce: the first five years of marriage. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(3), 289-298.
Rogge, R.D., Cobb, R.J., Lawrence, E., Johnson, M.D., & Bradbury, T.N. (2013). Is skills training necessary for the primary prevention of marital distress and dissolution? A 3-year experimental study of three interventions. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81(6), 949-961.
Segrin, C., & Flora, J. (2011). Family Communication. New York, New York: Routledge.
Schmidt, C.D., Luquet, W., & Gehlertc, N.C. (2015). Evaluating the Impact of the “Getting The Love You Want” Couples Workshop on Relational Satisfaction and Communication Patterns. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 15(1), 1-18.