Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Psychosocial Health Indexing in Marriage: A Pilot Study of Empathic-Accuracy, Personal-Relational Dialectics, and Gender in Relationship Maintenance among Ibibio Couples

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Psychosocial Health Indexing in Marriage: A Pilot Study of Empathic-Accuracy, Personal-Relational Dialectics, and Gender in Relationship Maintenance among Ibibio Couples

Article excerpt

Abstract

The social psychological literature contains numerous illustrations of how the social-cognitive perspective can inform our understanding of close relationships. Among the numerous forms of close relationships, marriage stands out as paramount in the preservation and sustenance of the human race. This study therefore examined marital relationship maintenance as influenced by empathic-accuracy, personal-relational dialectics and gender among Ibibio couples. The survey design was used and data was analysed using the independent t-test. Sixty-three participants (32 females and 31 males) living in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria participated in the study which sought to investigate these variables as aspects of psychological and social health indices in marriage. Three hypotheses were tested. The first hypothesis which stated that there will be a statistically significant difference in marital relationship maintenance between empathically-accurate and empathically-inaccurate couples was confirmed (t = -2.58, df(50.00), p <.05). The empathically-accurate couples were better in relationship maintenance. The second hypothesis which tested statistically significant difference in relationship maintenance between couples who resolve their dialectical tensions on a personal equilibrium level and those who do so on a relational equilibrium level was also confirmed, (t = -2.15, df(40.4), p < .05). Relational equilibrium level couples maintained better relationships. The third hypothesis which tested gender differences in relationship maintenance confirmed females as better partners in relationship maintenance (t = - (56.01), p <.05). These results were discussed with implications on previous findings. The study therefore advocated that potential couples weigh relevant options and go on to contract only those marriages that would stand the test of time.

Introduction

The maintenance of relationships among couples across the globe has been an important but difficult responsibility. Maintaining marital relationship though a healthy initiative in nourishing couples' interactions, presents numerous challenges which, at the same time, helps in cementing the bond between participating partners. Every new day, couples' routine interactions unfold new frontiers for deeper understanding and appreciation of each other. Primarily, Dindia 8c Canary (1993) suggested that maintenance in relationships can variously be explained: from keeping a relationship in existence, to keeping a relationship at a desired level of involvement or intimacy, to keeping a relationship in a satisfactory condition, to keeping a relationship at a level of intimacy that is satisfactory to both relational partners. These can include various behaviours or work which establishes relations of solidarity; maintains bonds of affection; provides moral support, friendship and love; give people a sense of belonging, ontological strength and empowerment and makes them feel good. Delphy 8c Leonards (1992) describe these acts differently as 'emotional labour' which I believe may fortify and expand the coast of relational frontiers.

These frontiers appear dynamic and therefore continuously expanded as people continue to reflect on the numerous personality dimensions which our individual differences unfold on us. Kumashiro, Rusbult 8c Finkel (2008) suggest that romantic relationships are the most interdependent types of relationship, one in which there are powerful demands for coordinating personal concerns relative to relational concerns. Distinctive skills in coordinating these concerns will lead to relational maintenance and longevity.

In Nigeria, relationship maintenance behaviours vary along cultural lines but retain the universal content. Generally, studies have shown that people are continuously using a variety of behaviours to effectively maintain their relationships. Sidelinger, Ayash, Gordorhazy 8c Tibbies (2008) explored the effects of computer-mediated communication rather than face-to-face communication on relational maintenance behaviours, commitment, relationship satisfaction, communication satisfaction and interaction involvement. …

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