Literature Review Conflict is a topic that has been researched from many different perspectives demonstrating from why

conflict happens, to what different forms of conflict look like, to what are the best ways to deal with conflict and how it can even strengthen relationships if resolved the correct way. What is universal across every relationship, however, is that there is some form of conflict present in each relationship that is natural and inevitable (Kaur & Sokhey, !"!# $incham, %each & &avila, !!'(. )esearch has shown that at the five year mark marriage relationship satisfaction tends to drop and couples are at a greater risk of divorce (*ottman & +evenson, !!!(. ,hus it is critical to be proactive in understanding and counteracting negative conflict styles. Literature Evaluation Conflict styles Styles of conflict referred to as -conflict attack.defend mode/ was shown to be a predictor of early divorce (*ottman & &river, !!0(. ,hese attack.defend modes include criticism, stonewalling, contempt and defensiveness (also known as the -$our 1orsemen of the 2pocalypse/( which the program, Conflict Happens, So What Now?, will use to help couples recogni3e negative conflict patterns they e4perience in their relationships. *ottman termed the couples that used this attack. defend modes and created less than a 05" positive to negative ratio in their relationship as 6hostile7 couples (1olman & 8arvis, !"9 (. :ur program will be utili3ing this information to help couples learn to self. regulate their behaviors so that they can fall into the 6regulated7 category instead. ,his is also referred to as the three functional styles. +iterature suggests that hostile couples have the poorest

relationship ;uality. 2lthough some researchers have asserted that one style of conflict resolution is not better than another, 1olman et al. ( !!9( data suggests that in fact, only validating couples have the highest relationship satisfaction. <alidating couples face conflict in a way that they turn to one another and =ointly work out conflict with their spouse in mind. :ther combinations of conflict styles also e4ist, but this program will focus on avoiding the worst and aiming for the best. ,he conflict resolution literature suggests that it is important for couples to understand their own feelings when dealing with conflict that arises. >f a person is feeling -hard/ emotions such as being angry, irritated, annoyed or aggravated they are more likely to use negative forms of communication versus if they are feeling -softer/ emotions such as sad, hurt, disappointed or concerned (Sanford, !" (. Since it is shown that partners generally do not see themselves as handling conflict in hostile ways but instead view themselves as handling conflict in validating ways, it is essential for Conflict Happens, So What Now? to help partners reali3e their own negative behaviors and give them resources for better handling their situations (1olman & 8arvis, !!9(. >t is important to address here that -constructive conflict/ is not an o4ymoron and that since conflict is inevitable it is important to have positive conflict interactions to resolve problems and differences that will arise (?ackey, &iemer, & :7%rien, !!!(. 2ccording to *reeff and de %ruyne ( !!!( three main conflict styles are considered to be positive and helpful to couples resolving conflict. ,he first of these is called collaborating. Collaborating is a when a partner confronts disagreements with problem solving techni;ues in order to find solutions to the problem (*reeff & de %ruyne, !!!(. ,he ne4t attribute is called compromising which is the proposal of obtaining a middle ground between the two couples (*reeff

& de %ruyne, !!!(. ,he third positive style of conflict resolution is accommodating which is an attempt to seek harmony in the relationship by soothing the other partner (*reeff & de %ruyne, !!!(. Forgiveness Since it is understood that conflict is inevitable and normal, it also is important to reali3e that at some point each person in a couple relationship will feel hurt, wronged or let down by their partner ($incham et al., !!'(. >n order for the couple to continue to feel safe and connected in their relationship, forgiveness is essential. >n fact, forgiveness is shown to reduce marital conflict in general (?c@ulty, !!A(. So when a couple e4periences a time where forgiveness is needed and they do forgive, less conflict will result from the first instance of forgiveness. ,he key that couples should focus on in this conflict situation concerning forgiving a partner of past faults is focusing on the current issue at hand as opposed to a past issue the couple e4perienced (Kaur & Sokhey, !"!(. &r. @ed 1allowell, author of &are to $orgive e4plains why forgiveness is a healing process and gives a four step plan to achieving forgiveness for yourself. When the couple is able to let go of these past hurts then forgiveness takes place and can provide closure to those things that have already happened, therefore reducing future repetitive or unresolved conflicts. Teachable Ideas Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Since research indicates that *ottman7s $our 1orsemen of the 2pocalypse are detrimental to healthy relationships and conflict resolution, Conflict Happens, So What NowB has integrated these $our 1orsemen into the curriculum. ,he program

will demonstrate e4amples of contempt, criticism, stonewalling and defensiveness through use of media e4amples. With these e4amples the couples will learn what these four negative reactions to conflict are and then will learn how to avoid using them. 2long with avoiding the negative, Conflict Happens, So What NowB will teach the couples positive conflict resolution tools using collaborating, compromising and accommodating techni;ues as researched by *reeff and de %ruyne ( !!!(. Forgiveness Conflict Happens, So What NowB is designed to create optimal environments in couple relationships where conflict can be resolved in a positive way. ,he research that we have drawn from emphasi3es the importance of forgiveness in this process. ,he only way for couples to permanently move on from past conflict is in forgiving one another, which affords closure. Class members will be taught the following principles to help them e4ercise forgiveness in their relationships. $orgiveness is difficult to give. Couples participating in the program will be taught what is e4pected of them in giving forgiveness. Csing the research from $incham et al. ( !!'(, the program will describe that spouses seeking to forgive must understand that after they forgive, they no longer can hold any weight over their spouse7s head for those past wrongs. $orgiveness should not be given out of habitual duty, but instead out of heartfelt love. Couples will be instructed on the need for forgiveness to have a happy marriage, and encouraged to e4ercise forgiveness as a take home assignment from the program. 2 model of constructive forgiveness will be demonstrated to point out common flaws that prevent forgiveness and doable ways to avoid them. Darticipants will also be asked to share e4amples of times when they have been successful in forgiving their partner to emphasi3e that success can be achieved.

ther Conflict Resolution !rograms :ther programs have been done similar to Conflict Happens, So What Now B. $or e4ample, Couple Communication focuses on a practical set of talking and listening skills. ,hey have si4 communication skills that they use to connect in clear and constructive ways. Couples Communication also uses a E.step process that combined talking and listening skills so that a couple is able to make decisions and resolve conflict collaboratively. 2nother program that deals with conflict is called ,he ?arriage *arden. ,his program emphasi3es learning to nurture the positive aspects and behaviors while guarding against negative behaviors. ,heir model is based off the analogy of nurturing your garden and following the dedication and hard work that also applies to nurturing a physical garden while connecting to the figurative garden of relationships. Stronger ?arriage is an online based program that offers information on marriage and conflict through articles that give advice on topics such as fighting fair in marriage, dealing with anger in marriage and conflict management and resolution skills. 2nother program with similar goals to Conflict Happens, So What Now B is the @ational >nstitute of )elationship Fnhancement program. ,heir program starts with developing constructive, accommodating atmospheres for resolving difficult relationship issues in participating couples7 relationships. ,his techni;ue is one that we know will be helpful in our program as well. Conflict 1appens, So What @ow? draws from *ottman7s $our 1orsemen of the 2pocalypse for addressing negative conflict and transforming it into positive conflict. ,his program focuses on creating a loving and secure relational environment. Couples will learn how to show validation for each other7s emotions

and an understanding of their differing points of view. 2long with creating a secure environment, the third segment to Conflict Happens, So What NowB addresses the importance of forgiveness in relationships and making conflict resolution a more positive e4perience. ,hese are the main components that will make up Conflict Happens, So What NowB. Conclusion Since conflict is inevitable in every relationship, the tools to handle those conflicts in healthy and positive ways are essential for maintaining strong couples connections. ,he Conflict Happens, So What Now? program can provide and help couples understand these conflict resolution tools to be ready to have a healthy relationship lasting beyond 0 years of marriage.

References %ramlett, ?.&., & ?osher, W.&. ( !! (. Cohabitation, marriage, divorce, and remarriage in the Cnited States. Vital and Health Statistics, 9( (.

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@ational >nstitute of )elationship Fnhancement and Center for Couples, $amilies, and Children. )elationship Fnhancement Drogram. )etrieved from http5GGwww.nire.orgGservices.for.individuals.couples.and.familiesGrelationship. enhancement.programG. Sanford, K. ( !" (. ,he communication of emotion during conflict in married couples. Journal of Family Psychology, J (9(.