Can your relationship be fine-tuned, ensuring its stability and increased strength, by applying some mathematical principles gleaned from scientific research?
According to this recent article, researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands have come up with a model that may help improve communication in relationships by revealing just how certain emotional reactions prove troublesome or helpful.
The mathematical model of a relationship may look like nothing more than a bunch of lines on a graph that indicate how partners respond — or more specifically, react — to one another.
And it’s the quality of those reactions that can make the difference between celebrating another anniversary with your beloved or renting a U-Haul and bidding a bitter adieu.
While the model makes room for all kinds of specific differences between people — for example, it considers the individual partner’s past relationships as well as how that past affects their current relationship — the researchers were still able to come up with a few broad strokes that apply universally.
It seems timing is really everything when it comes to dealing with conflict in relationships. The model indicates that couples who fly off the handle regularly — or react too quickly in emotional situations — have a greater risk of instability than those who don’t. But that doesn’t mean you should let things simmer. They also found a similar risk of instability in those who had delayed responses.
The trick in improving communication (and therefore stability) may lie in tempering one’s immediate reactions to an emotional trigger — housework, finances, in-laws! — and considering when and how best to address it with a partner.
The article sums the research findings up pretty simply, “Working on good communication, studying each other’s emotions and working out the right timing can improve your relationship, even without trying to change your partners’ traits (which is harder and takes more time).”
Do you think this equation over-simplifies communication?