Navigation Links
Seeing our spouses more negatively might be a positive

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---While our relationships with children and best friends tend to become less negative as we age, we're more likely to see our spouses as irritating and demanding.

That's according to a University of Michigan study that analyzed long-term patterns of relationship negativity among more than 800 adults ages 20 and older.

"There's been a lot of research showing that marriage and other close relationships enhance well-being," said Kira Birditt, a research fellow at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). "But less work has focused on the negative aspects of close relationships.

Viewing our spouses more negatively over time may not be all bad, Birditt says. In fact, it might even be, well, positive. "As we age, and become closer and more comfortable with one another, it could be that we're more able to express ourselves to each other. In other words, it's possible that negativity is a normal aspect of close relationships that include a great deal of daily contact."

For the analysis, presented late last year at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Birditt and colleagues Lisa Jackey and Toni Antonucci looked at individual changes over time and also at differences among people at different stages in life--- young, middle-aged and older adults. Participants in the study were interviewed first in 1992 and again in 2005.

Participants were asked about the negativity of their relationships with three key people in their lives: their spouse or partner, a child, and a best friend. Specifically, they rated the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the following two statements about each relationship: "My (spouse/partner, child, friend) gets on my nerves" and "My (spouse/partner, child, friend) makes too many demands on me."

At both points in time, older adults (age 60-plus) had the least negative relationships with spouses, children and friends. According to Birditt, this finding is consistent with other research showing that older adults are likely to report less conflict than do younger adults in their relationships.

Participants in their 20s and 30s reported having the most negative relationships overall.

For all age groups, including adults in their 40s and 50s, the spousal relationship was seen as the most negative and it tended to increase in negativity over time.

"The increases in negativity over time may be indicative of learned patterns of interaction which have been reinforced and tend to persist over time," Birditt said. "Other studies have found that negative communication increases over time and relationship quality decreases, especially after having children."

"Interestingly, as relationships with spouses become more negative, relationships with children and friends appear to become less demanding and irritating over time."

In future research, Birditt plans to study how the way we respond to negativity influences well-being. "How we respond to negativity in close relationships affects every aspect of our lives---at work and at home," she said. "In fact, it's likely that how we deal with it---not whether it exists---is what really matters. One thing I'm interested in exploring is how avoidance affects negativity over time. All kinds of research show that older people have less negative relationships. And we also know that older adults are more likely than younger people to report that they try to deal with conflict by avoiding confrontations, rather than by discussing problems.

"That may be another reason that negativity tends to increase over time in the relationship with a partner or spouse---when you're living together, it's a lot harder to avoid each other."

Contact: Diane Swanbrow
University of Michigan

Related medicine news :

1. HSN Is Seeing Pink with Susan G. Komen for the Cure During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
2. Family counseling improves lives of patients and spouses coping with prostate cancer
3. Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Norris Cotton Cancer Center Bring Together 2008 Presidential Spouses, Doctors, Researchers and Advocates at Leadership Summit on Breast Cancer
4. Head of Pastors Spouses to Challenge Women at Saddlebacks Global Summit on AIDS and the Church
5. Spouses often mirror each others health habits
6. Cancer patients, spouses report similar emotional distress, U-M study finds
7. Cancer patients, spouses report similar emotional distress, U-M study finds
8. New Colon Cancer Test Might Spot Trouble Earlier
9. Minor Leg Injuries Might Boost Blood Clot Risk
10. Molecules might identify high-risk acute-leukemia patients
11. Hormonal dietary supplements might promote prostate cancer progression
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... During the National Family ... and held two webinars on topics of ‘Medical and Palliative Care Decisions,’ and ... . , With a loved one's diagnosis of mesothelioma, the closest ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Thermi™, a world leader in thermistor-regulated energy ... temperature controlled radiofrequency platform has received CE marking and may now be sold ... as a clinical endpoint. The technology has been available in the United ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... driverless vehicle experience this summer, ushering in a new era of publicly accessible ... and electric shuttle, will continue to offer guests an up-close look at the ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Creek, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... MI, the American Cancer Society held an annual fundraising event, a 5K walk known ... a holistic treatment center for substance abuse which is also located in Battle Creek, ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... off its annual fundraising campaign to raise funds for its research, education, support, ... 10% of the organization’s annual funding. , The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, which ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015   Royal Philips ... the launch of Radiology Solutions, a fully integrated, ... Solutions comprises customized, data-driven practice management approaches that ... help radiology practices improve care delivery and reduce ... Radiological Society of North America Annual Meeting (RSNA) ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015  IBA Molecular North ... and distribution of radiopharmaceuticals, announced that as of January ... Inc. (Zevacor Pharma). The decision to rebrand the company ... firm as well as its close relationship with Zevacor ... Illinois Health and Science (IHS). Peter ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... BOCA RATON, Fla. , Nov. 30, 2015 ... Public Research (the Institute) announced today that it ... a medical device start-up company with technology developed at ... based on publicly-funded research, and bridges early funding gaps ... -based universities and research institutions. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: