If something pissed me off, I said it. And she had trouble with that.
In these relationships, as in any relationship that lasts, conflict emerged from differences between partners. Given the high levels of complementarity in role behaviors, conflict was inevitable. States of interpersonal disharmony were manifested in several forms as relationships evolved during the early, middle, and recent years.
Our challenge was to assess the severity of conflict. A distinction was made between minimal and major conflict on the basis of how partners perceived the severity of problems, tensions, and differences between them. If respondents described conflict as highly distressing and having significant disruptive effects on their relationships, the conflict was considered major. If differences did not have these effects on a respondent and the relationship, the conflicts were considered minor.
An example of major conflict was taken from an interview in which Esther described how different her partner and she were. Their relationship has lasted sixteen years. Differences were contained at tolerable levels throughout their early years together. During the middle years, one partner became obsessed with another woman and described the major disruption that occured: