In Dunleavy, Goodboy, Booth-Butterfield, Sidelinger, and Banfield (2009),

In any form of interpersonal communication, it is important
and beneficial to acknowledge the force for conflict that occurs within
relationships, and deriving an effective resolution technique from such. The
high divorce rates in American society today insist that some light be shed on
this growing societal epidemic. From the research collected for this paper, the
focus is placed on three specific aspects of conflict and conflict resolution
within marriages: conflict patterns,
similarity and understanding, and repair strategies.

            Conflict, as
defined in the article by Dunleavy, Goodboy, Booth-Butterfield, Sidelinger, and
Banfield (2009), is “the interaction of interdependent people who perceive
incompatible goals and interference from each other in achieving those goals” (p.
72). It is first imparitive to acknowledge conflict as a natural occurrence in
any relationship; on the other hand, conflict is still able to vary in
severity, frequency, and outcome. Outcome is the major factor of interest in
the research provided by Dunleavy et al. (2009), as a result of the distinctive
increase in divorce as a means to terminating marriage relationships within the
United States at a heightened level. 

            Conflict
has the opportunity to intensify relationships, if the two individuals allow
for a positive reaction to occur. Conflict that is managed well can further the
development of healthy relationships, offer positive relational growth, and can
lead to new forms of sharing, involvement, and problem resolution (Dunleavy et
al., 2009). Conflict that in not managed correctly, will prevent these positive
results from occurring if spouses engage in exchanges of hurtful messages
during times of conflict. There is a negative correlation between marital
satisfaction and conflict; this being noted, conflict also has significant
implications for individuals’ mental and physical health.

            Dunleavy et
al. (2009) mentioned that destructive conflict can lead to less direct
interaction between spouses, partner avoidance, psychological pain and feelings
of resentment.

Perceptions of one’s self and spouse serve a key role in
marital relationships (Segrin, Hanzal, & Domschke (2009). In their article,
Acitelli, Douvan, and Veroff (1993) explored the relative importance, to
marital well-being, of partners’ understanding and similarities of conflict
styles. The researchers organized similarity into two separate categories –
perceived similarity and actual similarity. According to this categorization,
perceived similarity was discovered to be more than actual similarity within
marriages, and was a stronger positive indicator for the well-being of the
marriage relationship. Perceived similarity is defined as when one person’s
perception of the self and the perception of the spouse coincide. Within both
situations of constructive and destructive conflict behaviors, the results of
Acitelli et al.’s (1993) research shows that perceived similarity between
spouses was more than the actual similarity that existed. This was explained by
the false consensus effect, that people tend to overestimate commonness to
assure themselves of the appropriateness or correctness of their own response,
to protect their self-esteem and to validate their own preference. In this
case, the response behavior in regards to conflict experienced with a spouse in
a marital relationship was what individuals were attempting to positively “save
face” for the relationship, your spouse, and for yourself (Adler & Proctor
II, 2011). It was found that as couples adjust to their shared reality in their
first year of marriage, spouses begin to adapt to “normalities” of arguing that
they will characterize as typical for their relationship. Acitelli et al.
(1993), in congruence with Bradbury and Fincham (1987), perceived indications
that the more couples thought they were alike in regards to fighting, the
better both spouses would feel about their marriage.

Conflict resolution is extremely important
when dealing with relationships and interpersonal communication. Conflict can
occur in various forms of relationships, and how partners go about resolving
these conflicts has, and will continue to have, a large effect on society and
the institution of marriage. Three major communication responses to this thesis
of conflict resolution techniques were the matters of conflict patterns,
similarity and understanding, and repair strategies. Negative conflict
behaviors are more easily recalled than those of positive or neutral behaviors,
which emphasizes the magnitude of importance for resolving conflict in an
effective and positive manner, especially in a society where divorce is on a
rampant rise. And because negative conflict behaviors are so easily recalled,
if not appropriately identified and handled, they can be damaging to the
interpersonal communication of the married couple for long term.