Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Advice for Squabbling Couples . . .

Professor Keith Sanford
Looking a bit conflicted himself . . .
Baylor University

In my ongoing though nonexistent series on maintaining a good marriage, I cite today a professor from my old, beloved alma mater, Baylor University, whose research results first came to my notice in this autumn's 2012 issue of Baylor Magazine, presented in its Research Briefs under the heading "Anger in disputes . . .":
"[I]f your partner is angry, you are likely to miss the fact that your partner might also be feeling sad," said Keith Sanford, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor University's College of Arts and Sciences. His study -- "The Communication of Emotion During Conflict in Married Couples" -- is published online in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Family Psychology.

Sanford found that while a partner will easily and immediately recognize expressions of anger, the spouse often will fail to notice the sadness.

"A take-home message is that there may be times where it is beneficial to express feelings of sadness during conflict, but sad feelings are most likely to be noticed if you are not simultaneously expressing anger," Sanford said. (page 21)
Good advice! Every couple has disagreements from time to time -- cross-cultural couples perhaps more often due to cultural misunderstandings -- but these are commonly expressed in agitation, even anger, when expressions of regret and sadness would communicate better what the problem is.

Keep that point in mind, whether in a bicultural marriage or not, and the next time you're yelling at your partner, be sure to scream out:
I'm so sad at you!
The message will be better understood that way. If you find expressing your more sensitive, vulnerable feelings in this manner to be rather difficult, you can always try first practicing in front of a mirror.

You see, reading this Gypsy Scholar's blog is worthwhile after all . . .

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