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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday's Psychology Trivia: T or F: Your Intimate Adult Relationship Problems Are Your Siblings Fault

Thought for the Day: I hope you have taken a few minutes to look at the brief confidential survey on Children and Violence. I'd really appreciate it if you would spend 5 minutes and fill it out. Help be part of the solutions.

It's Thursday and time for a psychology trivia question so I'm sharing one I did a while back:
 True or False: Your Intimate Adult Relationship Problems Are Your Siblings Fault
What do you think? What were your relationships with your siblings and cousins like growing up. Did you fight a lot or get along. How did you resolve conflicts with them or other close childhood friends? Did you yell, have physical fights or avoid talking to them hoping the problem would blow over?

Today, as adults, you may laugh at the memories of childhood rivalries when you get together with your grown siblings. Most adults outgrow the sibling rivalries, although some carry them into adulthood and have strained relationships with their siblings.

Although much research has been carried out looking at how our relationships with our parents impact on our adult relationships, a new study looked into how sibling relationships impact on our adult relationships. The study by Shalash, F. M., Wood, N. D., & Parker, T. S. (2013) called Our problems are your sibling's fault, explores "the connections between conflict styles of siblings during adolescence and later adult committed relationships." The researchers investigated three primary conflict styles, avoidance, attack and compromise and looked at 144 participants childhood and adult relationships. They found that the styles used with siblings during adolescence corresponded to those used in adult romantic relationships. 

Even if we'd like to blame our siblings, we all know our adult problems are not "our sibling's fault." However, recognizing these patterns can help us learn how to avoid the less productive techniques of attack and avoidance and try to develop the skills needed to make compromises. If both partners look at their childhood styles, it may help them understand why they are having trouble resolving conflicts and find better ways to work things out. For instance, if both of you grew up in homes where avoidance was the way of trying to resolve conflict, things may be unresolved and grow worse and worse over time. If one of you grew up in a family where siblings fought but made up quickly after arguments and your partner tends to avoid conflict like the plague, you may be distancing and unhappy with your relationship. Talking about this may help you try different approaches to the areas of disagreement. You don't have to spend your life with only one way of dealing with conflict, you can learn new ways to handle them.

To read more about this study there was a great article in Psychology Today:
Early conflicts with brothers and sisters can affect us long-term.

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