The Marital Dyad:
A Theoretical Overview
OUR conceptual framework for looking at the marital couple is divided into four categories. First we look at the emotional climate that surrounds the couple. Second we look at the ways in which communication, relationship time, and activity together are used to maintain the relationship. Third, we examine aspects of marital fusion, including personal boundaries, the operating styles of emotional pursuers and emotional distancers and the ways they relate to each other, and reciprocal functioning, patterns of functioning in which one spouse functions better when the other functions poorly. Finally we look at the way power and influence are distributed and used in the relationship, approaching this area through a consideration of the major issues around which marital conflict is organized: sex, money, patenting, and in-laws.
The emotional climate that surrounds the marital relationship can be described in terms of safety, temperature, and turbulence. In an atmosphere of safety, people are relaxed and open rather than tense and guarded. There