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Relationship maintenance is an important component of interpersonal interactions that has piqued the interest of many social scientists. In this situation, maintenance refers to the actions taken by partners to ensure the durability of their close relationship. At a higher level, relationship maintenance includes the behaviors and actions that are intended to ensure the durability and quality of a relationship. According to the two-level definitions, being together and stable is not solely about partnerships. Researchers investigated relational factors such as trust, affection, and the degree of happiness in the study of maintaining and healing relationships (Miller, 2014).Maintenance of relationships also implies the evaluation of the status quo and the mechanisms that can be used to address possible tensions that may arise.
In a relationship, partners should always feel safe as they share their thoughts and their inner feelings towards each other. The communication at this level should further be free from ridicule or any forms of judgments. Partners ought to build each other's self-esteem and always strive towards making one another feel good and appreciated regardless of the tough moments that they might face. It is also paramount to respect one another and reinforce a successful and healthy relationship that nurtures an honest and open form of communication. Maintaining a good relationship promotes an environment that is healthy, happy and carefree.
In many relationships, longevity is a sign of success after enduring the challenges and tolerating each other's weaknesses. Anniversaries are held symbolize these successes that characterize the continued stability. Stability is supported by the right form of conduct where behaviors act a most significant determiner of whether couples will divorce or not. Whenever partners display a negative behavioral pattern, an immediate shift in perception is triggered resulting in the wrong perceptions and unfavorable beliefs regarding a partner (Dindia & Canary, 1993). The negative messages in behavior cause accusations to be more rampant resulting in relational instability. Unstable couples are further characterized by an equally negative and positive messages ratio. At the initial stages of bad behavioral tendencies, couples begin to complain and criticize each other with several instances of compromises. The situation worsens with the onset of contempt which eventually leads to a state of defensiveness.
In understanding the nature of stable and unstable relationships, it is necessary to focus on attributions associated with couples' negative form of behavior (Aylor, 2003). Stable partners use benign attributions in understanding and explaining negative behaviors. In this category, couples may explain tiredness using understandable factors like being under a lot of pressure at work. On the other hand, unstable relationships have partners employing hostile attributions that reflect the internal feelings and traits of a partner. For example, a couple may perceive each other as being self-centered in the explanation of reduced communications while working. The negative attributions eventually result in partners losing their bond and distancing themselves from each other. Thereafter, they start reevaluating the conditions that made them be together and later in marriage hence the eventual separation.
Maintaining the stability in a relationship can be achieved through employing various mechanisms and strategies. One of the measures to guarantee this is the avoidance of negative reciprocity. Besides, there is a need to promote cooperative messages and explaining the negative behaviors of partners using benign attributions. Failure to reduce the effects of the defensive beliefs regarding a partner is an issue that can be handled using a professional marital counselor or a therapist. Spiritual leaders have also been effective in solving marital differences and advising couples on how to peacefully live with one another.
Repairing relationships that are not working is a necessary step that aims ata promoting the longevity of the sacrosanct marriage institution. Relationships face challenges ranging from chronic to acute behaviors. In romantic relationships, the most offensive form of behavior is sexual infidelity and other closely associated forms of bad behaviors such as physical violence, lying, reduced trust and failing to consider one another (Emmers & Canary, 1996). These forms of transgressions vary in relationships, and they play an active role in promoting uncertainty and doubts that threaten the survival of the established bond. To deal with these challenges, valuable lessons can be derived from the Uncertainly Reduction Theory which has a number of well thought out strategies (Van et al., 2014). A passive strategy implies giving the partner space and doing nothing about the challenge while an active approach entails the use of indirect measures to correct behavior such as involving a close friend. Other scholars have proposed the used of an interactive or direct session where compromises and concessions are applied. Another strategy that has been promoted by relationship experts is the acceptance of uncertainty, which implies ignoring the events causing unhappiness and if possible, start dating other potential partners (Young et al., 2013).
In the repair process, researches have revealed that the use of passive behaviors by men promoted the healing process (Reis, 2014). The use of active behaviors for women results to a higher intimacy. The active of the active behaviors for men resulted in a negative effect compared to women in as far as the degree of intimacy is concerned. From these findings, it turns out that repairing relationships entails the avoidance of the issue by men while women should use a different approach to persuading partners. Men and women should further ensure that they employ integrative forms of behaviors that promote a cooperative and direct repair after any forms of transgressions.
In repairing relationships, it is also important to emphasize the roles played by accommodative behaviors. Commitment should always go hand in hand with loyalty, which is a positive aspect. Besides, the concept should be negatively associated with tendencies characterized by neglect and exit. Partners should always be willing to sacrifice their good times to promote the happiness of the other. From these factors, it turns out true that people who are committed to the relationship will always display constructive responses to the problems that they face hence promoting stability. It is also true that the highly committed individuals derogate the alternatives of the third party and hold the belief that their relationships is ever superior and should always be above the norms. On the other hand, partners displaying a lesser commitment are the opposite and often involve third parties in solving internal issues that could be addressed with a mediator. Although it is not mandatory, partners should engage in a deep research aimed at understanding the concepts of relational maintenance in order to be informed on the right form of behaviors that promote the good and the happiness of the two parties.
Aylor, B. A. (2003). Maintaining long-distance relationships. Maintaining relationships through communication: Relational, contextual, and cultural variations, 127-139.
Dindia, K., & Canary, D. J. (1993). Definitions and theoretical perspectives on maintaining relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 10(2), 163-173.
Emmers, T. M., & Canary, D. J. (1996). The effect of uncertainty reducing strategies on young couples' relational repair and intimacy. Communication Quarterly, 44(2), 166-182.
Miller, R. (2014). Intimate relationships. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Reis, H. T. (2014). Responsiveness: Affective interdependence in close relationships. Mechanisms of social connection: From brain to group, 255-271.
Van Tongeren, D. R., Davis, D. E., & Hook, J. N. (2014). Social benefits of humility: Initiating and maintaining romantic relationships. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9(4), 313 321.
Young, V., Curran, M., & Totenhagen, C. (2013). A daily diary study: Working to change the relationship and relational uncertainty in understanding positive relationship quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30(1), 132-148.
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