“I’m sorry.” Those two little words can help patch things up after a fight with your significant other. But what your partner may prefer is for you to give up some power. So finds a study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.
Researchers looking through the literature say that all couples’ arguments boiled down to one of two issues: Perceived threat, where one person thinks their status is threatened by a critical partner, or perceived neglect, where one person feels their partner is either disloyal or inattentive.
For this latest study, researchers asked more than 400 married couples to list how they’d want to resolve a conflict. And the most desired resolution involved a relinquishing of power – either as a compromise, an admission of fault, a show of respect, or conceding more independence to the other partner. Other desired conflict resolutions included: investing in the relationship; halting adversarial behavior; more communication; more affection; and only last, was apologizing.
Of course, the underlying complaint can determine the correct response. Flowers might be a good response to feelings of “perceived neglect.” But if the problem is “perceived threat,” well, roses might be construed as a delivery system for thorns.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]