Relationships Predictors: The Struggle Between Money and Gratitude
November 19, 2018 9:02 AM   Subscribe

This study investigates the strains of financial distress on marital quality, and explores gratitude as a mitigating factor in these situations, when escalating spousal relation patterns might become increasingly negative.
posted by TruthfulCalling (7 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
What does "withdraw" mean in the context of this study?
posted by JamesBay at 9:29 AM on November 19, 2018

From the paper:
In this study, demand/withdraw interactions are investigated as an intervening couple process that links financial distress to aspects of marital quality. This communication pattern, which has been supported by decades of research in romantic relationships, is characterized by one partner criticizing, nagging, or making demands of the other, and the partner responding by avoiding the confrontation, becoming defensive, or withdrawing.
posted by peacheater at 9:54 AM on November 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thanks. The language is a bit ivory-tower abstract.

So the result of the study is that if we express our gratitude towards our spouse it makes it easier to weather financial distress?

FWIW, I've learned one of the secrets to a successful marriage is just saying "thank you".
posted by JamesBay at 10:47 AM on November 19, 2018

I find it interesting the language used to describe "demand/withdraw" interactions, not only in this article but, in my experience, generally. In neutral terms, the interaction is one of one partner (typically the woman) expressing a need, and the other partner (typically the man) responding by refusing to engage substantively. The predictable cycle is that the first partner then has to express their unmet need again and that gets called "nagging." If they are frustrated by having to express their unmet needs repeatedly, then that gets called "criticizing." But the male partner's refusal to engage is just "avoiding the confrontation" or "withdrawing." This bullshit tone policing is woven into everything and it's infuriating. (But don't betray the fact that you're infuriated or no one will take you seriously.)
posted by HotToddy at 11:13 AM on November 19, 2018 [20 favorites]

HotToddy, I think that you're finding stereotypes are producing stereotypes.

In my own relationship as a man married to a man, where I have a higher paying career than he does, this still holds true. And I'm the more "masculine" partner, if that is reasonable thing to say.

But between the two of us, I am totally a nag, or I would be if I didn't fight to stay self aware enough to notice.

Reading the article, while they didn't mention m/m or f/f relationships, they do mention that they looked at m/f and f/m interactions. I am not science enough to comprehend the data tables and analyses - can anyone else tell me if they reveal any interesting directional impact based on gender?
posted by rebent at 12:17 PM on November 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

In neutral terms, the interaction is one of one partner (typically the woman) expressing a need, and the other partner (typically the man) responding by refusing to engage substantively.

While this scenario certainly occurs all too often, and it's true that women are more often accused of "nagging" for reasonable requests, this is not a "neutral" description. Demands and criticisms are not always needs and the demands may very well oppose the other partner's needs.

For example, as a woman who is often in the opposite dynamic, I am very tired of pushing back against constant demands/criticism/nagging about my dietary choices, methods and quantity of exercise, cleanliness, clothing choices, and various other "my way is the One True Way, your way is utterly appalling and you must stop immediately" demands. I tend to fight/defend myself instead of withdrawing, but I can understand very well why someone might not have the energy to push back every time when faced with a partner who refuses to accept no for an answer. It's not always easy to make the "reasonable" response every time when your partner is making what you consider unreasonable demands over and over again.

Sorry, that was a bit of a tangent (and rant). Getting back to the article, it's interesting that something seemingly unrelated to that unhealthy dynamic would improve it. My guess is that appreciating/being appreciated just brings you closer together overall, which then reduces all sorts of unhealthy dynamics including that particular one.
posted by randomnity at 1:00 PM on November 19, 2018 [11 favorites]

Good point randomnity, the Gottman Institute calls that putting deposits in your love savings account
posted by rebent at 1:31 PM on November 19, 2018

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