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The complex nature of human relationships

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 4046 words Published: 15th May 2017

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Human relationships are complex in their nature. People coexist with each other in the world where conflict and differences in their lives occur and learning how to effectively manage those problems can have a great impact on the quality of the relationshipe. Conflicts gives people the opporunity to find the appropriate decisions and finding ways to find a solution to the problemswith minimal negative events. That is why, the issue of marital counseling is worth emphasizing (Cook, 29-67). In other words, marriage, is the unity of a man and a woman and unresolved conflict situations have an impact on marital satisfaction and longevity. It also directly impacts the quality of the relationship, but also on the overall satfisifcation of eac partner that is in the relationship. The aim of the present paper is to identify the notion of “marriage”, “conflict”, satisfaction”, “longevity”, and find out the relationship between these concepts. The urgency of the paper is determined by globalized way of human relationships that has changed human life which is observed through the role of marriage, the way of coping with difficulties and longevity on the whole.

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Marriage and Conflict

The definition of marriage can change from person to person, that is why it’s vital to select a defitition that the majority of the population will agree on. The term marriage is “a mutual desire of a man and a woman to compose a family” (Lewis, 54).. The unity of people in a family causes new types of relationships in which the members of that family develop coping skills to interact with eachother. At this point is where it can lead to different in opnions and differences in the way conflict is handled, “Conflict happens. Every couple argues and stresses out” (Lewis, 63). In order to understand their role on longevity, it is important to give a definition to the term “conflict” and its impact on longevity.

There are various definitions of conflict, but they all emphasize the existence of contradictions, which take on the form of disagreement. This is the point in the relationship were positive outcomes can happen or negative interactions can set the relationship back.. Conflicts can be hidden or obvious, but their basis always lies in the lack of consent. Therefore, the conflict is defined as the absence of agreement between two or more parties – individuals or groups.

The lack of agreement is due to the presence of a variety of opinions, views, ideas, interests, and viewopints. It is important to remember when discussing conflict resolution that the couple be able to see both sides of the argument, no just from their viewpoint. This happens only when the existing contradictions and differences disrupt the interaction of people, and disrupt the advancement of goals for the couple. In this case, people simply are forced into a situation that they try to overcome their differences and enter into open conflict interaction.

If conflicts contribute to informed decision-making process and development of relationships, then they are called functional. The conflicts that impede effective communication and decision-making process are called dysfunctional. It is necessary to be able to analyze conflicts, understand their causes and possible consequences. When a couple struggles with finding a healthy way to communicate and find a ways of ending the conflict it can have greater consequences for future problems.

Conflict usually arises in the process of emotional convergence of spouses, especially when one or both of them violate personal boundaries of a partner without visible intention. This is one reason why it is important at the start of the relationship that both couples are aware of the boundaries and limitations of the other person. When these boundaries are not seen or when a person oversteps these boundaries conflict will arise. Then the conflict allows couples to increase the distance away from each other for a definite period.

Conflicts in family are caused by inadequate and conflicting family-marriage expectations and perceptions. The most common myth is that one partner expects to see the other as an attachement of themselves, going everywhere together, not having any free time for oneself… This expectation may be contrary to the interests of a partner who wants to realize his or her personal aspirations and interests and that type of expectation would would damper the relationship and would restrict the freedom and opportunities for development and fulfillment of both partners.

Spouses need to understand whether they can accept each other as they are, take with respect to the views of partner and his or her traditions, which he or she brought from the parent family, without any attempt to alter partner’s behavior and attitude for other views and expectations of another partner. The majority of marital conflicts that occur frequently have hidden purpose, that is, the struggle for leadership.

Signs of the struggle for leadership in marriage are the following ones: 1. conflict arises out of nowhere, literally out of nothing; 2. conflicts occur frequently on the basis of different issues; 3. both spouses are older children in their families, – wife is the eldest child in her parental family, or her husband is younger. It is possible that in such types of families the leading position is occupies by parents of a couple; 4. conflicts occur with increasing frequency over definite period, and they are accompanied by accusations, or even insults, and the period of rest in the family is declining. There are no winners in these conflicts. Both spouses are characterized by low self-esteem.

Crises and conflicts are normal for the family as a developing system. Crises may be associated with certain life-cycle of the family, such as marriage and the need to separate from their parents, birth, adolescence of a child, the separation of children from their parents and the last – the death of a spouse. All people are sometimes in conflict. All people are arguing. This is necessary, because conflicts generate liability and resoluteness. This means that people are not indifferent to the problem and each other. If a conflict is recognized and understood, if the parties are prepared to resolve it, so that both sides have won, then such a conflict leads to the renewal of relationships and improves communication.

If conflicts are frequent and sharp, a family went through a period of crisis in the marriage. It is necessary to allocate crises stages of marriage (years, three years, seven years, “adolescent”), as well as crises, based on a stressful family circumstances (adultery, death of relatives, loss of a spouse, etc.). The crisis is a test of the family “for strength” of their relationships. Many problems can be avoided if to know how to resolve them. Fortunately, some steps are made in the present paper. Thus, many problems can be solved if sincerely want this and be prepared for them.

Conflicts in the family can create mental environment for the spouses, their children, parents, as the result of which they acquire a number of negative traits of personality (Pitt-Catsouphes et al. 2006). A conflict family is characterized by the establishment of negative experiences, lost faith in the possibility of the existence of friendly and affectionate relationships between people, accumulation of negative emotions that lead to psycho-trauma. Psycho-traumas are often manifested in the form of experiences, which, because of severity, duration or frequency strongly influence personality. It is necessary to distinguish such traumatic experiences as a state of total dissatisfaction with the family, “family anxiety”, neuro-psychic tension and condition of guilt.

The condition of a full family dissatisfaction arises because of conflict situations where there is a noticeable discrepancy between the expectations of the individual to the family and real life. It is expressed in boredom, colorless of life, the absence of joy and nostalgic memories of the time before marriage, complaints to the surrounding people concerning the difficulties of family life. Accumulating from conflict to conflict, this dissatisfaction is expressed in emotional explosions and hysterics. Family anxiety often appears after a major family conflict. Signs of anxiety are doubts, fears, and concerns, related primarily to the actions of other family members.

Mental stress is one of the major traumatic experiences. It arises because of 1. creating constant psychological pressure, a difficult or even hopeless situation for the spouse; 2. creating the obstacles for the manifestation of spouse’s major feelings and satisfaction of needs; 3. creating a situation of constant internal conflict in the spouse. Mental stress is manifested through irritability, bad mood, sleep disorders, rage. Condition of guilt depends on the personal characteristics of the spouse. The person feels a hindrance to others, guilty of any conflict, quarrels and failures, he/she tends to perceive the relationship of other family members as accused and blaming to himself/herself despite the fact that in reality they are not such.

Relationships in Marriage

The increased interest in family and marriage is due to a number of reasons. One third of all marriages is unviable. The issue of strengthening marriage and the improvement of marital structure of the population is of overriding public importance in connection with the problem of fertility. Addressing such issues is impossible without studying the mechanisms of family relationships. Socio-psychological climate in the family determines the stability of these relations, it has a decisive influence on the development of both children and adults. The psychological climate of the family is not something unchangeable, given once and for all. It was created by members of each family and their efforts depend on how it will be, a favorable or unfavorable. Every single person is a personality, unique and unrepeatable, with her worldview, which affects the establishment of mutually satisfactory relationships. Modern marriage is based on the compatibility of modern humans as individuals.

Satisfaction with marriage is the main parameter characterizing the conjugal relationship. Definition of “happy marriage” is the following one: both husband and wife share the view that they are found or reached the “golden mean” or special “universal balance” in individual needs, desires and expectations, balance sheet, which they consider a unique and probably irreplaceable. This feeling of the golden mean, is achieved by joint efforts, and it is created thanks to creativity and it is developed by a married couple in the process of moving, ever-changing interactions within the family. It has many sources: the values shared by both spouses, when the importance of marital relations is recognized, and their marriage they believe exactly as they wanted to create.

This balance incorporates experience of childhood and adolescence, and especially it is fueled by powerful unconscious transformations, hopes, fears and fantasies that each person brings to the marriage. The balance is based on the realities of present and past both within the family and social environments surrounding it. It is also created due to the ability to emotional maturation, the growth of individual consciousness, and the same ability to more deeply understand a partner and show empathy.

And it is always an ongoing creative process which is discussed in terms of psychological problems that should be solved in a marriage. The essence of this concept lies in the fact that it is the totality of these problems compose the basic problem of human interaction in the family; they need to be addressed in family couple throughout their lives, otherwise the marriage is counter-productive and is in danger of collapse. It is this basic context, including the power and flexibility of family union, created by two persons, distinguishes a marriage that satisfies both partners.

The special emphasis deserves the issue that shown the necessity to detach oneself emotionally from the family of childhood in order to be able to fully invest the strength and feeling in their marital union, but at the same time, overestimate the possible points of contact with both parents’ families. Moreover, the dependence of a husband on the parents is more important and more likely to lead to problems than the affection of his wife to her parents. Under the emotional department, the study considers the absence of an exaggerated sense of guilt, mistrust, anxiety, responsibility, resentment and anger from both spouses in relation to their mothers.

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The degree of adaptation to the new family life of a wife largely depends on the degree of independence of a husband from his parents. Marital satisfaction can be achieved through implementation of several items: 1. Creation of a full and happy sexual relationship and their protection from intrusions from the liabilities associated with the implementation of household and other works. 2. Combining efforts, involving the frightening obligations in connection with the birth of the child, the ability to survive in a dramatic appearance of a baby in the family, and protecting individual rights and the proximity of the couple. 3. The ability to withstand and overcome the inevitable crises of life, maintain the power of family ties in the face of adverse circumstances. 4. Creating a safe space within the family in order to express and resolve differences, anger and conflict. 5. Use laughter and humor in clarifying the true state of affairs, and also avoid boredom and alienation. 6. Providing the conditions of care and comfort for a partner, as well as meeting the continuing need of a partner in getting emotional and other types of support. 7. Saving of the romantic, idealized notions of love when they met the sobering realities encountered on the path of life.

Unresolved Marital Conflicts and Longevity

Chapman (2007) writes that “Unresolved conflict in a marriage can also be a source of defensiveness. If we have not resolved our differences, we feel somewhat estranged from each other and are therefore more vulnerable to being defensive. Some couples who fail to resolve conflicts over a period of years draw the conclusion that they are not compatible and, in fact, are enemies” (Chapman, 157).

Health of people is directed connected to human activity and his or her relationships with the surrounding people. Consequently, marriage is the main factor that has a direct impact on human life and longevity. It can be explained by the fact that emotions of people cause different feelings such as happiness, grief, etc. These feelings force people to experience different situations during a long period that frequently cause stressful situation in the case of unresolved conflicts in marriage. Stress can provoke different diseases that obviously lowering the duration of human life.

Garner (2009) stresses that “to attain to a lengthened life, to enjoy ease and tranquility in life’s decline, and immunity from pain, debility, and other forms of suffering, are objects worthy of far more earnest attention than they usually receive. Since we have more accurately investigated the constitution of man, body and mind, the conditions of life, health, disease and death, the nature and relations of things around us, we are able to form more rational aims, and to pursue them with better hopes of success” (13-14).

Self-assessment of health is deteriorating in every person. However, this deterioration is more rapid in the marriages with dissatisfaction, particularly in old age. Marriage is the most important factor of social contact for human health. The years of tension spend in marriage may slowly undermine the health. Age also affects the activity of the immune system, leaving older people vulnerable to stress. Older people are more likely to have chronic health problems that stress can increase. In addition, older people may attach more importance to marriage, as they lose their other social connections.

Chapman (2007) adds that “After several months or years of unresolved conflicts, we begin to hear inner voices that say: “I know I married that wrong person”. “How could I have let myself get into such a mess?” “I can’t believe that my mate is so inconsistent”. The unresolved conflicts lead us to think that we are incompatible and that our spouses is not really on our side. The unresolved conflicts push us toward making broad generalizations about our spouse and our marriage” (Chapman, 158).

Prevention of Marital Conflict

Constructive of marital conflict resolution primarily depends on the ability of spouses to understand, forgive and concede. There is one of the conditions for ending the family conflict. It is not to seek victory. The victory as the result of a loved defeat can be hardly called an achievement. It is important to respect others despite the level of guilt. It is necessary that the spouse is able to honestly ask himself/herself what he/she is really cared about.

It is necessary to dwell separately on such a radical way to resolve marital conflict as divorce. According to psychologists, a process consisting of three stages precedes divorce: a) an emotional divorce, manifested in alienation, indifference of the spouses to each other, the loss of trust and love, and b) the physical separation that leads to separation, c) a legal divorce, which requires legal registration of divorce. Divorce brings freedom from animosity, hate, deceit and everything that prevented from being happy in marriage to the majority of people. A woman, with whom children are usually remained, is the most vulnerable to divorce. She is more than a man, subjected to the neuro-psychiatric disorders.

It is important to note that many recommendations for the normalization of the marital relationship and prevention of disputes from escalating into conflicts have been developed. Most of them are summarized as follows: 1. Respect yourself and others. Remember that he (she) is the closest to you. Try not to accumulate errors, wrongs and sins, but immediately respond to them. It will prevent the accumulation of negative emotions. 2. Do not criticize each other in the presence of others (children, friends, guests, etc.). 3. Do not exaggerate your own abilities and dignity; do not consider yourself always right in all. Trust your spouse more and minimize jealousy. Be careful, know how to listen and hear the spouse. Always take care of your physical attractiveness, work over your own weaknesses. Do not generalize even obvious shortcomings of the spouse; lead a conversation only about a specific behavior in specific situations. 4. Treat the hobbies of the spouse with interest and respect. In family life, it is sometimes better not to know the truth, than try to establish the truth. Try to find time to take a rest from each other at least sometimes. This will help removing the emotional and psychological heaviness of communication.

In other words, “When conflict happens and communication starts to break down, take a break from each other to cool off and think through the issues. There are some ways to resolve the conflict and how you can avoid battling about the same issues again. For example, I need to listen to you more and not read into what you’re saying. I’ll try to be more patient with you. I won’t say harsh or unkind words to you. Get back together and talk. Remember, your goal is to resolve the conflict. Take turns so that you both can speak and both actively listen. Share what you wrote while you were cooling down. You might need to “give” a little more to compromise, so humility and cooperation are important. Spend time in prayer together to end your discussion” (Lewis, 63).

It is necessary to keep in mind some key points that can be used in everyday communication that helps to avoid conflict situation in marriage and resolve different cases. Firstly, it is important to talk about everyday affairs every day. In this case, couples learn to trust each other and then they share their problems with each other that creates mutual understanding. Secondly, it is essential to find time for talking; it may be a family meal. Thirdly, it is important to be approachable. It is necessary to empathize and listen to each other.

The main suggestion for successful family communication is to be intentional. This means that couples should not avoid conversation with their children, give time and space for it. Communication is not only words; it may be expressed in tone, body language or some actions. Therefore, it is important to listen carefully and try to understand not only words but also feelings behind them. Sometimes, a conversation may be tough. It is better to think about it in advance, prepare possible questions or do something.

It is essential to invest in family communication, for instance, by writing a letter, sending a card, or making a phone call that will result in opening a friendly dialogue. It is better to build relationships during good times that will help at bad times. Besides, the knowledge of likes and dislikes of the closest relatives will contribute to successful everyday communication in the family.


The problem of conflict has always been more or less relevant to any society. Life proves that conflict does not apply to events that can be effectively managed on the basis of life experience and common sense. The issue of family conflicts is worth emphasizing because family is the oldest institution of human interaction, a unique phenomenon. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that several people intimately interact for a long time (tens of years), that is, for the greater part of human life. Disputes, conflicts and crises cannot arise in such a system of intensive interaction as family.

Divorce leads to the fact that the society receives an incomplete family, because of which the number of adolescents with divergent behavior is constantly increasing and leading to crime expansion. This creates additional difficulties for the society. Key role in family conflict relations belongs to marital conflict (Pitt-Catsouphes et al. 2006). They arise because of unmet needs of the spouses. Most conflict situations are the crisis periods in the development of the family. Family conflicts have traumatic consequences: a state of total dissatisfaction with the family, “family anxiety”, neuro-psychological tension and state of guilt. The experts have made recommendations on regulation of marital conflict in order to prevent conflict situation within the family and increase the importance of family in the future.

It is necessary to add that “Unresolved conflict does not mean that these couples never discuss conflicts. Periodically, they may have long and heated discussions about conflicts. The problem is they never reach a solution. After the heat has intensified to a certain point, they drop the conversation and withdraw from each other, leaving the conflict unresolved. Then when the spouse says something that is emotionally tied to this unresolved conflict, the person will have another defensive response” (Chapman, 158). In summing up, the obvious connection between conflict situations in marriage and human life, that is, longevity, is supported by different research studies. People living in the marriages with obvious dissatisfaction because of unresolved conflicts, demonstrate health problems that affects longevity of couples (Amato, 77).


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