Conflict-Management Behavior in Dual Trauma Couples

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Whereas there are numerous studies that have specified associations between adult-attachment functioning and romantic relationship quality, very few have examined the relative impact of generalized attachment representations that are marked by unresolved loss or trauma. Further, there is little or no work that has examined the quality of couple interaction in dual trauma couples, or cases where both partners are unresolved. In the present study, it was hypothesized that partners comprising dual trauma couples would exhibit more conflict management problems than couples with alternative attachment classifications. To test this assumption, 138 college students, comprising 69 couples, involved in romantic relationships completed the Adult Attachment Interview (George, Kaplan, & Main, 1996; Main & Goldwyn, 1994) and were observed in a 15-min conflict interchange. The primary study hypothesis was supported. Couples consisting of 2 unresolved partners displayed more problematic couple interactions than partners with other attachment configurations. In addition, secure men were in romantic relationships marked by good conflict-management behavior; however, this was not true for secure, unresolved men who had insecure female partners. Implications for research and practice are addressed.

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