Emotional Interdependence and Well-Being in Close Relationships
parental beliefs about patterns of interactions within the family and their a dominant role and family relationships are highly valued and respected. This. Request PDF on ResearchGate | Interdependence and the Interpersonal Sense of personal control in the relationship, (b) acquiescence—the belief that one is. The findings underscore the importance of basing theory on well-described data. .. Ideas about the association between family interaction patterns and mental. terms of relationships. Obligation to others is more value on independence than making connections are likely to . tion and of no real importance. “He'll learn.
Individuals from emotionally more interdependent couples reported higher individual well-being than individuals from more independent couples in terms of life satisfaction but not depression. Relational well-being was not relationship satisfaction or even negatively empathic concern related to the degree of emotional interdependence.
Especially driving the emotions of the partner i. Additionally, assessing emotional interdependence for positive and negative emotions separately elucidated that primarily emotional interdependence for positive emotions predicted more self-reported life satisfaction and less empathic concern.
These findings highlight the existence of large inter-dyad differences, explore relationships between emotional interdependence and key well-being variables, and demonstrate differential correlates for sending and receiving emotions. Moreover, such phenomena are often considered defining elements of a healthy romantic relationship. But is this really the case?Systems Thinking - Interdependent Relationships
Is emotional interdependence a characteristic of healthy couples? While past research has certainly provided evidence for the existence of emotional interdependence in romantic couples, the degree and correlates of emotional interdependence remain poorly understood and documented. Yet, identifying the precise nature and correlates of emotion interaction patterns between romantic partners can inspire theory about underlying mechanisms and improve insight in the dynamical interplay of emotions between people.
Interdependence and Role Relationships
Additionally, it can help to inform research on relational dysfunction, ultimately contributing to the improvement of therapies that focus on emotions, such as emotion focused couples therapy Johnson et al.
For a long time, emotion research has primarily focused on the intrapersonal aspects of emotions. Emotions mostly originate from interpersonal contexts, however, and research is increasingly shifting attention to how emotions emerge in interactions between people and can become intertwined over time, giving rise to complex interpersonal emotion dynamics Butler, ; Boiger and Mesquita, ; Butler and Randall, ; Kappas, Summarizing, we will here refer to it as emotional interdependence.
Emotional interdependence is particularly expected to occur in the context of close relationships, such as parent-infant dyads or adult intimate relationships. There indeed seems to be an abundance of evidence for the existence of emotional interdependence in adult romantic relationships, especially for negative emotions see Larson and Almeida, for an overview. For instance, stress that one partner experienced at work can crossover to the other partner at home after they get together Westman, Literature about emotional similarity matches this idea, reasoning that tuning emotions to one another has beneficial interpersonal consequences e.
It would help partners to coordinate their behaviors and thoughts, making them able to collectively respond to situations that demand action. Additionally, it would increase mutual understanding and feeling validated by the partner, promoting social cohesion, attraction, and sympathy.
In sum, tuning emotions to one another is expected to be related to relational well-being, and more specifically to relationship satisfaction and empathic concern. Hence, based on this literature, we would expect emotional interdependence not only to be related to relational well-being, but also to individual well-being.
Although previous work clearly established the occurrence of emotional interdependence in couples, one may wonder whether it really is a defining feature of optimal close relationships. The specific pattern of emotional interdependence seems to depend on the couple under investigation, with a lot of couples evidencing emotional independence.
Currently, several factors have been associated with variation in the amount of emotional interdependence in couples. On a first, macro- level, emotional interdependence is moderated by culture.
For instance, Schoebi et al. Additionally, couples in arranged marriages show less emotional interdependence in the form of synchrony than couples in love marriages Randall et al.
On an interpersonal level, the degree of emotional interdependence has been associated with factors such as interpersonal insecurity and perspective taking Schoebi,and cooperation Randall et al. Also, related literature on covariation of concurrent emotions called synchrony suggests that it varies depending on time spent together of the partners Papp et al.
On an individual level, emotional interdependence is shown to be moderated by distress Randall and Schoebi, and attachment style Randall and Butler, Still, existing research on this topic is limited in a number of important ways.
First, emotional interdependence has mostly been investigated in a very confined manner, by looking at connections between the same emotions of both partners one notable exception is Randall and Schoebi, This analysis of quite a number of different studies disclosed wide support for the spillover hypothesis, that is, that transfer exists between one sub-system in the family e.
However, when concrete moderators of this transfer were debated, no clear results could be found. Parents and child are expected to change their communication patterns over time Hill, particularly when conflicts between the generations are to be regulated. Broderick and Smith gave an excellent example for such regulations and, in addition, for the course of changes in family rules and negotiations techniques during this adaptation process, when parents, in the end, give way to their child's growing protest against household chores like cleaning up the room.
In general, discussions in parent-child dyads may show an increment in those communication patterns which indicate a more adult-like exchange patterns during the transition period. Frequencies for parental communication styles like "teaching" or "giving attention" went down during the three and a half year period, whereas frequencies for behaviors like "negotiation" or "exchange of statements", that is, affirmation of one's own position, increased see figures 3 and 4.
As to nonverbal communication changes in the parent-child dyad, the degree of high closeneness shown by both parents during the first year of our data collection when the children were about 11,6 years old decreased considerably when the children had reached the age of fifteen years see figure 5. Astonishing enough, there were also changes over time in the mother-father exchanges without the child present. For example, the exchange of statements in discussion reached a peak when the child was 13 years old see figure 6but also the degree of tension between the parents was highest in their discussions at that time see figure 7.
Elements of conversations in the family such as challenging statements, supporting or discouraging remarks characterize two different patterns, enabling and disabling communication patterns, which are believed to be highly relevant for the development of different selves. In our longitudinal observational study with families and their adolescent children, we focused not only on general change trends but also on adolescents' experiences of differential communication patterns during the transition period.
Applying cluster analysis Ward,we could identify three clusters which were labelled as groups containing adolescents who have a "secure", "habitual", or "ambivalent" relationship with their parents see Kreppner,for details. The most striking result for different communication behaviors within the family was found for those two groups in which adolescents had given consistently diverging assessments about the quality of the relationship with the parents as being either "secure" or "ambivalent".
For the "secure" adolescents, paternal communication behavior varied considerably over time with regard to specific aspects like the use of statements in discussions with the child, that is, exchange of different opinions without a common solution, or of an exchange mode embedded in an egalitarian context.
For the "ambivalent" adolescents, fathers in their discussion behaviors did not show such variations during the transition period see figures 8 and 9. Another marked difference between the two groups secure and ambivalent adolescents is indicated by the emotional climate during the discussions, between parents and children as well as between the two parents.
The category "high closeness" describes how discussion partners produce the climate which either fosters or impedes the flux of verbal exchanges. The consistent differences in frequency distributions between the two groups of families in the mother-adolescent, father-adolescent, and mother-father dyad impressively show the dissimilar worlds of communication in which adolescents may grow up see figures 1011and In sum, parent-adolescent relationships do undergo some changes during the passage from childhood to adulthood and it could be shown in a few examples that families run through this transition period with different adaptive skills.
Families do not only show divergent patterns of communication when dealing with transition problems but also differ in their flexibility to adapt to their children's changing demands for more autonomy and adult communication.
The child and the family: interdependence in developmental pathways
Moreover, they also produce different qualities of emotional closeness in the family when discussing mundane issues in their everyday exchanges. The impact of the quality of marital relationship for adolescent development In a longitudinal study, Feldman, Fisher, and Seitel have shown that marital satisfaction during the child's adolescence was an important predictor of subsequent emotional and physical health of children six years later.
From this perspective, it seems worthwhile to study a family's microcosm in its many details at specific transition periods in the family life cycle. As conflictual parent-parent relationships have been shown to produce spill-over effects for parent-child relationships, that is, tensions in the marital relationship produce a malfunctioning parent-child relationship, children's and adolescents' behaviors after divorce cannot solely be attributed to the act of divorce alone.
Rather, impairment in development evolves as a product of children's experiences in their families long before parents finally separate, as these children grow up in the context of a deteriorating parent-parent relationship. Moreover, academic achievement and antisocial behavior appear also to be strongly influenced by family status Zill, Conclusions and a look into the future A perspective on family communication emphasizing its function for the child's mastering of developmental transitions Families are not just well-established groups of individuals with a kind of robust and never-changing set of intragroup relationships.
On the contrary, families are more or less fragile constructs which permanently have to adapt to challenges generated by non-normative events as well as by normative individual developmental processes. Families do differ considerably with regard to their ability to adapt to developmental demands of their children and to their openness for new solutions for continuing family life. Families show a variety of ways in which they pay attention to each others' needs, in which they react to developmental changes and regulate the single members' space to live their own interests.
Differences in communication behavior are salient not only in parent-child, but also in parent-parent dyads. The different modalities by which parents and children communicate with one another have long been considered as salient mediators for rules, regulations, and values inside the family.
Moreover, as knowledge grew about intricate details of the relatedness between mother-child and father-child communication e. Clarke-Stewart,more concepts emerged carrying a sophisticated view of a family's impact on a child's well-being and the parents' own development Silverberg, Future longitudinal studies have to find out which aspects of verbal and nonverbal communication patterns seem to be prototypical for the establishment of secure relationships within the family, which interaction behavior is supporting or impeding a child's development in his or her family.
We still do not know much about the essentials of the quality of communication patterns within the family at different periods of the child's development.
We did accumulate so far some hints but no exact details about the kind of communication context that may contribute directly to the child's feeling of well being or ambivalence, to the possibility or impossibility to regulate emotions within a relationship and to the development of social competence or incompetence in the child.
The eminent role of the fathers, evident also in some of our own results, is still largely unknown in its concrete impact within the complex network of family interactions. Particularly time-specific effects of communication exchanges within the family, the role of the marital communication, and the flexibility of exchange modes should be studied more intensely.
Finally, critical transition phases in adult development and their possible impact both on parent-parent communication and family climate represent splendid candidates for those time windows in which future research could be intensified. Having aggregated now some general information about communication and interaction practices within families, we need more detailed long-term and single-case information.
Future perspectives on family research should concentrate on overcoming the still existing huge differences in theoretical frameworks used to design studies on developmental processes. As two different worlds have to merge, the world of individualistic and psychological thinking about child development and the world of interactionistic and sociological thinking about the family as an institution are still too far apart to allow easy exchanges.
Lacking flexibility of creating variables which would fit into both frameworks, wide distance and continuing misunderstandings between the two camps still remain. Although some progress may have been made, research designs still seem to be committed to quite different worldviews: Mechanistic stand against organismic concepts.
Another obstacle to gain quick access to relevant knowledge is the often-mentioned dissimilarity of socialization practices in different societies and cultures. Of course, these differences should not be neglected or simplified. However, under a relationship-quality perspective, culture-specific patterns of child socialization might be linked to more overarching aspects of necessary adaptation and intergenerational continuation. Patterns of parent-child relationships may differ among cultures, but they all have to meet a number of universal prerequisites to secure the child's basic needs and to socialize the new member into the common canon of value and norms which links the present with the next generation.
A tentative look into the future of family research A general and overarching perspective should be emphasized, when future research on family as developing systems is regarded: As a tentative guideline for future research in the area of family and family development, seven points are listed below: Family research should strongly focus on the analysis of relationships, their quality, history, flexiblity and resiliency under stress.
Nonrelational aspects, such as single members' temperaments, traits, or pathologies should be linked to the various aspects of a family's relationship quality. In family studies, both verbal and nonverbal exchanges in a relationship should be analyzed. Exchange about objects, persons, and situation is only one aspect in the communication between two people.
The other aspect encompasses the regulation of the relationship between the two communicating people, its symmetry or asymmetry and, linked to it, the range of information that can be exchanged.
Although contents and relationship are negotiated in both verbal and nonverbal modes, nonverbal information is crucial for gaining a comprehensive interpretation of meanings conveyed in verbal communication.
All relationships in a family have to be regarded when research about families is conducted. By the same token, also all constellations such as dyads, triads, tetrads and so forth must be considered when relationship patterns within families are investigated.
As studies comparing dyadic and triadic interactions have shown, dynamics between the same persons may vary considerably in different constellations. Family research should always keep as a working hypothesis that families are institutions in which, among other functions, the production, maintenance, and transmission of meaning and culture are central.
Thus, the production of meaning, the quality of flow of meaning between family members could be a favorite topic. When analyzing communication and interaction within the family we should try to create more variables depicting relationship characteristics on a molar level. Micro-level analyses, useful for specific questions and elaborations, very often seem to lead to elementaristic and reductionistic interpretations of complex and time-specific behavior patterns. Research could take more effort to look after something like a depth-dimension in human communication.
As a research strategy, family research could concentrate on specific phases where transitions have to be mastered. During a transition phase, the families' modes to handle different interests and divergent problem-solving strategies can be observed in full detail. A focus on the family's attempts to keep an old or to look for a new state of equilibrium could help better characterize a family's mode to negotiate extant relationships in everyday communication.
New methodological approaches are needed. The follow-up of families through several stages of their lifetime needs to take into account the specific modalities of communication in order to segregate relevant from irrelevant aspects and events.
Both larger representative samples and more detailed longitudinal case studies which can be located in the larger samples are needed.
A final thought A look forward seems to be rather meaningless if there is no comparison with a look in to the other direction. Therefore, at the end of this contribution, two general perspectives will be addressed which were formulated by two philosophers who were already mentioned to at the beginning.
Emotional Interdependence and Well-Being in Close Relationships
Both have tried to emphasize the specific role of communication with others and the importance of culture as essential aspects for understanding human nature and behavior. Both are well known for their critique of an all too mentalistic or cognitivistic approach in the human sciences.
Giambattista Vico was a philosopher who made every effort to keep alive a tradition which seemed to be lost after Descartes and during the times of Enlightenment and Rationalism.
In his book The new scienceVico argued against the extreme reductionism in Descartes' "cogito" as the only sign of truth for human existence. The discursive production and maintenance of meaning, our main focus in family research, leads us perhaps far back in the history of epistemology.
It carries us into an era of philosophical thinking which was, under a today's perspective, fundamentally different from our view on reality and logic. We enter the period before Descartes, the time of early Humanism and Renaissance, when law and medical sciences were the prototypes for finding general solutions in the sciences. By this definition they were expressing rather a fundamental moral imperative. Reason is a very inadequate term with which to comprehend the forms of man's cultural life in all their richness and varieties.
Some current longitudinal research conducted, for example, at Harvard and in Minneapolis, does show promising tendencies. Stuart Hauser published just a first attempt of his single case continuation on protective factors which might open a window for new perspectives on relevant factors of family life for individual developmental progress. The Minneapolis longitudinal study which follows children and their attachment status in infancy over adolescence into their establishments of romantic relationships during early adulthood represents another promising attempt to gain information about the impact of relationship quality on the course of individual development Collins, Moreover, family narratives have gained new interest in developmental psychology during the last years.
Parents' ways to talk about their own history, their families of origin, is an important part of the context, in which a child grows up.
In a recent publication, Fiese, Sameroff, Grotevant, Wamboldt, Dickstein, and Fravel proposed dimensions like coherence, interaction, and relationship beliefs as relevant aspects for distinguishing families' communication contexts. Even after Descartes and his reductionistic cognitive solution for the explanation of human existence, we hopefully still find rich thinking alive in science for a more advanced and open vision of the human beings in their interrelatedness with an intergenerational and cultural context.
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