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Rather than an apology, new research says the thing most couples want during an argument is for their partner to relinquish some power.
This can include offering a partner more independence, showing more respect or becoming more open to compromise.
The findings, which were published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, come as part of duel studies from Baylor University.
For the first study, 455 married couples were surveyed on what they desire as the resolution to single arguments and ongoing issues.
Ultimately researchers identified six categories of resolution that most people sought.
A relinquishment of power was found in interviews to be the common preferred outcome.
It ranked higher than such solutions as showing more investment, communicating more, offering more affection or even making an apology.
“A relinquishment of power was
found to be the preferred resolution.”
The couples ranged in ages from 18 to 77, having been together anywhere from one year to 55 years.
The second study involved 498 similar couples who were not involved in the first research.
They were given a questionnaire to help researchers pinpoint just how importantly individuals rank the different resolution possibilities identified in the first study.
According to researcher Keith Sanford, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Baylor, perceived power can be a touchy matter for couples at any stage.
“It’s common for partners to be sensitive to how to share power and control when making decisions in their relationship,” he said. “When we feel criticized, we are likely to have underlying concerns about a perceived threat to status, and when that happens, we usually want a partner simply to disengage and back off.”
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