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COUPLE RELATIONSHIPS (Conflict, Influence & Problem Solving). Unit 3 – Chapter 7 (Continued). Stages of Marriage. There are 3 predictable stages of a marriage: 1 st stage – the “Honeymoon” phase 2 nd stage – reality 3 rd stage – settling in. The Honeymoon Phase.

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stages of marriage
Stages of Marriage
  • There are 3 predictable stages of a marriage:
  • 1st stage – the “Honeymoon” phase
  • 2nd stage – reality
  • 3rd stage – settling in
the honeymoon phase
The Honeymoon Phase
  • The relationship is romantic, warm and respectful. A couple generally focuses on exploration, sexual attraction and the idealization of their partner. Everyone is on their best behaviour.
reality conflict
Reality (Conflict)
  • Individuals become more demanding of their own wants/needs which creates conflict
  • Individuals feel let down because their relationship is less rewarding
  • The key to surviving Stage 2 is communication!
  • Be honest about your needs – it develops intimacy with your partner and enables them better meet your needs in the relationship
settling in
Settling In
  • Couples compromise & negotiate to create a relationship that meets their needs.
  • This relationship is more realistic, mature & stable.
  • Discussing with your partner how to solve problems together reflects mutual interdependence and a commitment to the relationship
the marriage cycle
The Marriage Cycle
  • Barry Dym & Michael Glenn (1993)
the marriage cycle1
The Marriage Cycle
  • Certain crisis cause the instability in Stage 2
  • Couples must constantly renegotiate their expectations and roles in the relationship to regain stability

Predictable crisis include:

  • adjustment to marriage
  • the birth of a child
  • teenage years
  • children leaving home
  • retirement
  • growing old together
negotiating roles
Negotiating Roles
  • Traditional marriage: women had the expressive role to maintain and nurture the marriage & family; men had the instrumental role to pursue financial stability through personal fulfillment (professional & educational)
  • Nowadays, women bring financial & educational resources into the marriage too so they are also seeking personal fulfillment
negotiating roles1
Negotiating Roles
  • Systems Theory: couples must develop the strategies (habitual behaviours) of their new martial system.
  • In a marital system, couples need to negotiate strategies for when to go to bed, who will make dinner, when to have sex, who will clean up, etc.
  • This also helps couples establish the boundaries of their relationship and define themselves as a couple.
conflict in relationships
Conflict in Relationships
  • What do you think are the top 10 sources of conflict in married or cohabitating couples?
conflict in relationships1
Conflict in Relationships
  • Conflict is natural in marriages
  • Conflict theory: conflict is inevitable in couple relationships. The changing roles of men and women in Canada create 3 challenges for couples:
    • Individual vs. Collective interest
    • Women’s rights vs. Male entitlement
    • “Mine” vs. “Yours”
conflict in marriage
Conflict in Marriage
  • The most common conflicts resulting from these dilemmas involve:
    • Division of labour
    • Expressing emotions/affection
    • Balancing work & family life
    • Frequency of sex
    • Debt brought into the marriage
    • Employment
power influence
Power & Influence
  • Power is the ability to influence the behaviour of someone else
  • Conflict theory: in personal relationships, the person who has resources that the other needs has more power (traditionally men)
  • Principle of least interest: the person with the least commitment to the relationship has the greatest power, since the person with the greater commitment is more likely to give in to maintain harmony in the relationship
money housework power
Money, Housework & Power
  • Symbolic interactionism: what is perceived as fair in a relationship affects the stability of a marriage
  • In traditional marriage, men perceived they had greater power because they were stronger, better educated & had more money than women therefore they were the “boss”/decision maker
  • Modern couples expect their relationship to be more equal when it comes to division of labour and decision making
money housework power1
Money, Housework & Power
  • A 2008 study showed that women spent an average of 4.8 hours a day on unpaid domestic work in 1986 and 4.3 hours in 2005.
  • For men, they spent an average of 2.1 hours in 1986 and 2.5 hours in 2005.
  • Studies like this show trends with the division of labour in Canadian marriages:
  • Woman are working more hours of paid employment and doing fewer hours of domestic work
  • Men are working longer hours in general
  • The total hours spent on housework, childcare and shopping has declined
money housework power2
Money, Housework & Power
  • Peer marriage – when the division of labour is no more than 60:40
  • Very rare before 2000
  • Peer couples have negotiated gender roles so that each is equally responsible for financial and household duties & each partner’s work is given equal importance regardless of income
  • Peer couples identify their relationship as the most important aspect of their lives and are willing to place their marriage ahead of their career, even if it means sacrificing opportunities
concepts of marriage
Concepts of Marriage
  • How is “peer marriage” different from “traditional marriage”?
strategies for resolving conflict
Strategies for Resolving Conflict
  • Express opinions, positions & wants openly
  • Remain focused on the problem at hand
  • Try to understand the other person’s perspective
  • Recognize your own influence on the other person’s response
  • Respond with a positive attitude
  • Be willing to compromise & negotiate a solution
solving problems
Solving Problems
  • Most marital conflict cannot be solved, but it doesn’t need to mean the end of a marriage
  • Difference between problems & underlying conflict
  • Conflict arises out of incompatible needs, values & principles
  • Couples can solve problems as they occur, but underlying conflict remains & will arise again
how to solve problems
How to solve problems
  • Enduring couples manage conflict by acknowledging that conflict exists, tackling specific problems that arise in a positive way & allowing themselves to be influenced by their partner & giving in when necessary
can marital success be predicted
Can marital success be predicted?
  • Enduring couples have several characteristics in common:
  • Similar values
  • Enjoying similar leisure time activities
  • Pooling their income
  • Sharing power & decision making
  • Having common friends
  • Having an active social life together