Infantood influences how couples bounce back after row

Sunday, February 20, 2011

WASHINGTON - The ability of couples to bounce back from a row may depend on what both partners were like as infants.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been following a cohort of people since they were born in the mid-1970s.

When the subjects were about 20 years old, they visited the lab with their romantic partners for testing, the journal Psychological Science reports.

This included a conflict discussion when they were asked to talk about an issue they disagreed on, followed by a ‘cool-down’ period when the couples spent a few minutes talking about something they saw eye to eye about.

Jessica E. Salvatore, doctoral student at Minnesota, noticed some interesting things about the couples’ communication styles during ‘cool-down’ period, according to a University of Minnesota statement.

“As part of another project where we looked at how couples fight, I would often catch a few minutes of this cool-down period,” she says.

Salvatore noticed that some couples had intense conflicts, but made a perfectly clean transition to chatting about something they agreed on. In other couples, one or both partners seemed “stuck” on the conflict discussion and couldn’t move on.

Salvatore and her team found that people who were more securely attached to their caregivers as infants were better at recovering from conflict 20 years later.

This means that if your caregiver is better at regulating your negative emotions as an infant, you tend to do a better job of regulating your own negative emotions in the moments following a conflict as an adult.

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