You benefit if your romantic partner recovers well from spats, study finds

Feb 11, 2011

People searching for fulfilling and stable romantic relationships should look for a romantic partner who recovers from conflict well. Yes, it turns out that if your romantic partner recoups well after the two of you have a spat, you reap the benefits, according to results of a new study by the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development's Institute of Child Development.

The research looks at how people recover or come down after a conflict with their romantic partner, said Jessica Salvatore, the lead researcher in the study "Recovering From Conflict in : A Developmental Perspective." The article is set to appear in the journal , and has been released online. Co-authors of the study are university researchers Sally Kuo, Ryan Steele, Jeffry Simpson and W. Andrew Collins.

Salvatore and her colleagues' research digs into a new area. In the past, marriage researchers have focused on how people resolve conflicts, but they never looked at what happens after the conflict ends and how people recover, Salvatore said.

"What we show is that recovering from conflict well predicts higher satisfaction and more favorable relationship perceptions. You perceive the relationship more positively," Salvatore said.

The interesting finding is that you don't have to be the one who recovers well to benefit.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
People searching for fulfilling and stable romantic relationships should look for a romantic partner who recovers from conflict well. Yes, it turns out that if your romantic partner recoups well after the two of you have a spat, you reap the benefits, according to results of a new study by the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development's Institute of Child Development. The article is set to appear in the journal Psychological Science. Credit: University of Minnesota

"If I'm good at recovering from conflict, my husband will benefit and be more satisfied with our relationship," Salvatore said.

The study's participants were 73 young adults who have been studied since birth and their .

"Several decades of marriage research show that what happens during a conflict matters. What we show is that what happens in the time following a conflict also matters," she said.

A partner who recovers well doesn't let remnants of the conflict spill over or leak into other parts of the relationship, Salvatore said. He or she is able to separate conflict from other types of interactions, such as deciding how to parent their children or providing support to one another.

The study's findings are relevant to everyone in relationships, Salvatore said.

"I especially think this will be important for marital therapists and other people who are working with couples who are experiencing some relationship distress," Salvatore said.

Results of the study also show that infant attachment security plays a role in how someone recovers from conflict.

"Having a caregiver who was more in-tune and responsive to your emotional needs as an infant predicts better conflict recovery 20 years later," Salvatore said. This means that if your caregiver is better at regulating your negative emotions as an infant, you tend to do a better job of regulating your own negative emotions in the moments following a conflict as an adult.

But not all is lost if you were insecurely attached as an infant. "We also show people who were insecurely attached as infants but whose adult romantic partners recover well from are likely to stay together. What this shows is that good partners in adulthood can help make up for difficulties experienced early in life," Salvatore said.

Explore further: Understanding psychosis and schizophrenia

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Don't make that face at me!

Mar 02, 2010

Think back to your last fight with someone you love. How did you feel afterwards? How did you behave? Conflict with a loved one often leaves a person feeling terrible and then behaving badly. So much so that these scenarios ...

Recommended for you

Understanding psychosis and schizophrenia

15 hours ago

A report published today by the British Psychological Society's Division of Clinical Psychology challenges received wisdom about the nature of mental illness.

"Body recognition" compares with fingerprint ID

Nov 27, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—University of Adelaide forensic anatomy researchers are making advances in the use of "body recognition" for criminal and missing persons cases, to help with identification when a face ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.