Masters & Disasters discussion forum
In our current topic for this course, Love & Communication, many concepts were explained that deal with relationships, love, intimacy, and, yes, divorce/separation as well. In his monumental research on long term couples (married/cohabiting/committed), Professor John Gottman uncovered communication patterns in thousands of couples and, from this data on communication patterns within couples, he was able to accurately predict which couples would have successful relationships (stay together & be happy) versus which couples would have unsuccessfulrelationships (split up; or stay together but be miserable).
He called the successful couples “Masters” — he used this term because these couples ‘mastered’ the best communication practices with their partners. It’s not that they didn’t fight; in fact, many of the “Masters” fought, for sure. It’s that when they fought, they fought or argued in ways that were NOT destructive or hurtful to the relationship. They’d figured out — or mastered — how to fight fair and still love each other, maintaining respect and care for one another.
The other couples in his study — the unsuccessful ones — fought as well, but they destroyed each other in the process and, eventually, destroyed their relationships as well. These couples were unsuccessful because they tore each other down or alienated each other so much that there was nothing left to the relationship and, unfortunately, they usually ended in divorce/separation within 5-7 years of marriage/commitment. He called these couples “Disasters” because the couples fought in ways that left them filled with resentment, anger, emotional distance, or alienation from their partners — definitely NOT a recipe for success in an intimate relationship!
Gottman’s method for assessing couples’ communication styles with each other was so reliable that he was able to predict when NEW couples would end up divorcing simply based on their communication patterns during conflict! It was powerful research then and still is today.
For this discussion, look over the materials posted under “Lecture Materials” –> Module 5 –> Love, Intimacy, & Communication. In those slides, you will see several slides related to Gottman’s research. Read and reflect about the information that explains what the “Masters” and “Disasters” actually DO when communication during conflict in their relationships. In your textbook, look at pages 248 (Box: “Communication Patterns & Partner Satisfaction”) and page 251 (Box: “Lessons from the Love Lab”).
If you’ve been in an intimate relationship in the past or if you currently are in one, these communication behaviors and ways of dealing with conflict probably resonate with you. If you haven’t been in a relationship, you can still apply it to how you might imagine a future relationship.
For this assignment:
1) PICK THREE of the communication patterns (from page 251 in your book). You can pick any combination — from the Masters or the Disaster, or both — but pick patterns that you believe are most important/hurtful/helpful/difficult to perform during the course of a relationship. This is a very nuanced and opinion-based answer that you will provide, so think about it carefully. You can feel free to write about which of the “bad” behaviors you’ve done in a past/present relationship or “good” behaviors. Name and briefly describe each of your chosen three behaviors.
2) Write about how each behavior positively or negatively impacts the relationship or how it can potentially change a relationship. Again, this is your opinion, but the point here is that I want you to reflect about these behaviors and how to integrate the “best practices” or Masters into your own life.
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