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Marital conflict study
A recent study from America has looked at how good married couples are at recognising each other's emotions during conflict.
The study, by Baylor University researcher Keith Sanford, found that in general, couples are pretty good at emotion recognition, but also found that if one partner is angry, it might tell more about the overall climate of the marriage than about what the partner is feeling at the moment of the dispute.
"I found that people were most likely to express anger, not in the moments where they felt most angry, but rather in the situations where there was an overall climate of anger in their relationship - situations where both partners had been feeling angry over a period of time," said Sanford. "This means that if a couple falls into a climate of anger, they tend to continue expressing anger regardless of how they actually feel ... It becomes a kind of a trap they cannot escape."
Common spats that might fester deal with in-laws, chores, money, affection and time spent on the computer.
Sanford found that when people express anger, they often also feel sad. But while a partner will easily and immediately recognize expressions of anger, the spouse often will fail to notice the sadness.
Previous research has found that genuine expressions of sadness during a conflict can sometimes draw partners closer together, and it potentially can enable couples to break out of a climate of anger.
"A take-home message is that there may be times where it is beneficial to express feelings of sadness during conflict, but sad feelings are most likely to be noticed if you are not simultaneously expressing anger," Sanford said.
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