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Relationships require effective communication; this is especially true when avoiding conflict and building intimacy within marriage. A great deal of time and research has been spent on relational conflict resolution and effective communication strategies discovering antecedents to relationship stability and nonregulation. One such researcher is Dr. John Gottman. “World-renowned for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction, John Gottman has conducted 50 years of breakthrough research with thousands of couples. His work on marriage and parenting has earned him numerous major awards” (Gottman.com, 2022). According to Gottmann, some couples engage in the following negative exchanges: contempt, defensiveness, criticism, stonewalling, and belligerence. These exchanges can be predictable precursors to marital conflict and divorce. (Seccombe, 2018). For example, stonewalling occurs when one partner adopts an attitude of intolerance or unwillingness to attend to or understand another’s perspective. Gottman found that when one partner adopted a stonewalling attitude, the couples were more likely to experience sustained conflict. “Gottman’s couple research points to skill deficits in dealing with conflict, such as contempt and stonewalling and ineffective repair attempts, as strong predictors of eventual divorce” (Galovan, et al., 2022, p, 371). These deficits in conflict resolution and poor communication styles can lead to continual nonregulation and eventual dissolution of marriage without the benefit of intervention.
As a married woman, I can speak to the importance of effective communication. Through the years my husband and I have sought marital counseling and many of the tools we were given were concerning successful communication. Conflict is inevitable, but strong and effective communication where both partners are willing to work together with an attitude of love and tolerance is essential. We did not start that way. At the beginning of our relationship, we were defensive and sometimes contemptuous. I am grateful we were able to, as the result of counseling, let go of the patterns that were holding us back and adopt new and better forms of conflict resolution and communication.