Interpersonal conflict is integral to intimate spousal relationships, and while potentially destructive, it can also enhance sharing of feelings and thoughts and the sense of being loved. Its positive or negative effects partly rely on how partners deal with it. This study was conducted in Israel with 160 participants. All participants were Jewish and involved in long-term heterosexual intimate relationships (married/in a serious relationship). The study examines a model that suggests that perceived socioemotional and materialistic power of a couple predicts their conflict management strategies. In addition, we tested whether this relationship is mediated by perceived quality of spousal relationship. The perceived socioemotional power was found to predict only cooperative conflict management stratagies and only for women. It was also found that this correlation is mediated by the perceived quality of the relationship. This study enhances our understanding of the way individuals grapple with spousal conflicts and reveals the positive power that can be nurtured and embodied within the spousal relationship. In addition, this study reveals that the effect of power perception differs between men and women. Clinical and research implications for couple and family therapists are discussed, and suggestions for effective clinical practice in addressing marital power are given.
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- Conflict management strategy
- power perception
- socioemotional power
- spousal conflict