‘If partners withdrew or become contemptuous or critical, the bad feelings lingered, and that negative emotion dampened people’s ability to process or perceive their partner’s attempts to repair what was wrong between them,’ Ogolsky noted. For the study, 98 same sex couples kept a 14-day diary in which they recorded conflict and answered questions about how they had responded to it.
For example, did they withdraw? Did they lash out? Did they blame the other person? Did they threaten to leave? Or did they take a more positive approach? Did they persist in their attempts to communicate? Did they prioritise solving the problem? Answers to these questions predicted whether they were able to recognise that their partner was attempting to mend the relationship. (Read: Beware, Twitter-related conflicts could result in infidelity and divorce)
After an argument, in a newly chilly emotional climate, communication styles can be very important, Ogolsky explained. ‘Hostile feelings do not gain a foothold among constructive communicators – people who talk things out and work through the problem in a constructive manner. That is a game changer for the way a couple’s relationship will develop,’ he noted.
‘If you use effective strategies to manage conflicts on a daily basis when those conflicts are small, you are likely to create a warmer emotional climate and have better outcomes,’ Ogolsky noted. The findings appeared in the Journal of Family Psychology. (Read: Conflict at home can affect a woman’s reproductive health)