Dissolution of relationships

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  • Created by: Natasha
  • Created on: 29-12-12 12:20

A01 Lee Model

One of the first benchmarks into the research for dissolution of relationships was Lee(1984) who surveyed 112 premarital romantic breakups and extensive interviewing of over 100 couples, he discovered evidence for five distinct stages that occur in relationship dissolution.The first stage, dissatisfaction, shows that first one or both individuals must recognise that there are real problems in their relationship. Next these problems must be brought into the open during the exposure stage and then in the negotiation stage these issues are discussed and will try to aim for the resolution stage where both parties will try to find ways in which to fix the relationship by solving the problems. If the negotiation and attempt to find resolution fails then the couple moves into the termination stage where the relationship is brought to a close.

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A02 Issues research, warped view, Duck

A strength of Lee’s stage model is that it was devised from real life relationships, which suggests the model as high ecological validity. However the limitation to this manner of carrying out research with surveys and interviews in that post dissolution of a romantic relationship one or both parties have a warped sense of the reality behind the break up and will remember the process of the dissolution in a different way to the reality of the situation, this is suggested by Duck’s model that during the Grave Dressing Phase the partners will put their own spin on the events in order to protect their own egos and the findings of Lee do not take this into consideration. Therefore Lee’s study lacks reliability due to social desirability.  

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A02 Biased, youth, reductionist

Additionally, Lee only devised his model from premarital relationships; therefore this represents a biased sample in many ways such as youth and uncommitment is present. Due to these differences, this makes the model very hard to apply to every relationship as not all relationships have these features such as marriages therefore this model lacks generalizbility. This suggests that the model doesn’t consider individual differences and individual cases in which all these stages will not occur, such as sudden dissolutions of relationship when, for example, a spouse leaves their partner by simply moving out without having any of the exposure, negotiation or resolution stages. Furthermore as a relationship can end for a variety of reasons due to individual differences, one can argue the model is reductionist as the causes and subsequent impact are not accounted for, due to simplicity of the model. 

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A02 Cultural bias

Another criticism that actually applies to both Westernize models is that there may be cultural differences; therefore the models may apply only to certain groups of people (Buck, 1999).  Non Western relationships may form differently and it is therefore likely that different pressures will influence their dissolution. For example, in an arranged marriage entire families and communities are involved, and commitment is an important feature of relationship maintenance. If a couple moves to a different culture, the influence of the community and their commitment may be threatened, leading to relationship breakdown. Consequently, this may mean that both models tell us nothing about the stages that non Western relationships go through, therefore limit our overall understanding about the dissolution of relationships. 

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A01 Rollie and Duck model

Another model which attempts to explain the dissolution of relationships is Rollie and Duck’s phase model. They claim that the first stage in the breakdown of a relationship is the Intrapsychic phase in which one or both of the partners begin to consider the problems that exist within the relationship, but at this stage, they do not speak out about these perceived problems. The second stage is the Dyadic phase when the troubled partner confronts their partner and tries to correct these problems; this stage can involve the assistance of a marriage counsellor to help resolve any issues contributing to this dissolution. In the Social stage the decision is made by one or both partners to leave the relationship, both partners are likely to discuss the relationship openly with their peers. They will each have their own version of any key events or points that contribute to the problems with the relationship and will gain assistance and advice from others they have spoken to. The final stage in Duck’s phase model is the Grave Dressing phase, in this stage each of them go through self-justification when they form their own version of events and the reason behind the breakup. This stage is especially important for when they intend to move on to new relationship as they protect their own egos to prepare themselves for a new partner. 

In 2006 Duck and Rollie added a fifth stage to the model by introducing the Resurrection Phase in which the individuals evaluate the relationship and rephrase it setting out how things could be different and attempting to re-instigate the relationship again. This further stage supports the manner in which this model allows for a relationship to be rekindled and fixed whether it be before the complete dissolution of the relationship or afterwards.

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A02 Techniques to repair

A strength of this model is that it gives some insight into possible effective techniques to enable one to be able to repair the relationship as issues within the relationship becomes apparent to at least one person during the intrapsychic and they can try and focus on the positive aspects rather than the negative ones and the dyadic phase allows the couple to work through their problems and possibly fix or improve these in order to allow the relationship to be saved through discussion with or without the aid of an experienced marriage counsellor. This is supported by Duck’s 1991 study where he found that a lack of skills such as social skills can lead to dissatisfaction within the relationship as it leads to poor conversation, and this could be corrected during the dyadic phase of the model by improving communication.

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A02 Social skills

Challenging Duck’s phase model for an explain for the dissolution of relationships, Akert  (1988) found that partner who did not initiate the breakup process suffered from loneliness, unhappiness and depression, whereas the dissatisfied partner suffered from slight guilt as a result of ending the relationship. This challenges the phase model as there are differences in how each partner reacts to the end of the relationship, this means that the model may not apply to both individuals, satisfied and dissatisfied. 

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A02 Gender bias, women emotional

However, both models of the dissolution of relationship highlight a gender bias, assuming males and females will progress similarly through the different stages of break up. Supporting this idea, Brehm and Kassin (1998) found that women are more likely to stress unhappiness and incompatibility as reasons for dissolution, whereas men are particularly upset by ‘sexual withholding’. Due to such differences research has found this suggests that these explanations fail to explain how or why males and females may respond differently to the breakdown of a romantic relationship, therefore limiting our understanding of relationship dissolution. 

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A02 Ethics

However there are some ethical limitations to this model as the research carried out by Duck and later Rollie will have meant carrying out research into sensitive areas of people’s personal lives such as issues of vulnerability, possibly leading to distress in the participants and it could also cause privacy and confidentiality problems in cases involving issues such as abuse. 

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A02 Deterministic

A big limitation of both models is that neither of them explains why a relationship will begin these stages of dissolution in the first place, they only explain the likely process once the sequence has begun, which they also ignore that it can differ between individuals, therefore both models can be accused of being determinist. As mentioned above, gender may make a difference to how an individual starts a relationship, and there are also many other factors which influence how relationships break up. Consequently, if we was just to use these models they will limit our understanding of how relationships dissolute and why. 

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A02 Insight optimistic view

On the other hand, the Lee’s detailed information collected was a great insight into dissolution of relationships and Duck’s model explores the possibility for psychological growth after relationship breakdown. An optimistic view on relationship breakdown would be a main strength of the model as most models focus on the distress caused following a relationship; therefore Duck’s model has provided useful information that can be later explored in future studies.  

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