A new study conducted by Baylor University shows that when you are arguing with your significant other, you are looking for them to relinquish control and gain power over them. Keith Sanford led a team of researchers and studied couples to see what they were trying to get from their partner during a fight.
Sanford asked people who were in a relationship what behaviors their partners could change to resolve fights. Data from two previous studies were used as a starting point. These studies revealed the two things that couples are most worried about in an argument:
1. Perceived threat – One partner believes that the other is being overly critical or demanding which threatens their status.
2. Perceived neglect – One partner feels the other is not being loyal or attentive enough.
The data from these studies showed that perceived threat was more of a concern for most couples than perceived neglect.
During the first experiment in the Baylor study, 455 married people were asked to make a list of resolutions that they wanted from current fights or arguments that they were having with their spouses. Included in the study were 50 couples and 355 individuals.
They were asked to think about a specific fight that they had with their spouse and then complete a questionnaire called the Couples Underlying Concern Inventory. This is used to describe their partner and themselves during a fight. The survey was broken up into different categories and then narrowed down to things that they wished the resolution would be such as relinquishing power, stopping adversarial behavior, communicate more, apologize, give attention, and showing investment.
Overall the answers to these surveys showed that people were more concerned with having their partners relinquish power and stopping adversarial behavior more than anything else on the list.