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One thing that Wood states in her writings is that commitment is a pivotal part of a relationship. Commitment is not a feeling, correcting many misconceptions of this thought. Commitment is a decision. It is the choice to remain within the relationship and it links two partners to a future. When two people decide to commit, conflict is not seen as a time to end the relationship but as a resource to make the relationship stronger by working through their conflicts. Commitment involves the choice to speak and listen effectively to one’s partner. When two people commit, they take responsibility for continuing to invest in and care for their bond (Wood 267-268).
With commitment comes challenge. Various items can affect two people’s choice to commit and their future within that commitment. One of these challenges includes distance. With distance two people are not able to share the small events of their day with their partner. Distance disables two people share their ordinary comings and goings that helps relationship stay woven together. Another challenge is unrealistic expectations for time together. Partners who are distant tend to expect each moment that they spend together to be perfect. They believe that conflict should be avoided and that they should be joyfully focused on their partner not realizing that conflict no matter what type of relationship is inevitable. Another challenge with this type of relationship is unequal effort that the two partners invest to make and maintain their connection. One of the main reasons distant relationships do not work is because one person feels as if they are doing all of the work to keep the relationship solid and ongoing. (Wood, 407)
I call these challenges because they can be overcome.
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Another aspect of a relationship that Wood labels important is intimacy. In a relationship, intimacy is one of the main reasons why couples stay together after great arguments. Intimacy involves feelings of closeness, a connection and a feeling of tenderness. With intimacy, one feels that there is a level of connection that cannot be broken (Curtis). Conflict is resolved because couples would rather be intimate than to argue. I find that there is great truth in this theory. My girlfriend and I have been in many disagreements, but as soon as we come to a compromised resolution, we lay in each others arms feeling that we brought ourselves closer to one another through conflict. We re-establish our sense of connection and feel as if we have started anew with knowledge of each other that we knew nothing of before our conflict.
Wood also includes the idea of passion. Passion is the reason for butterflies in the stomach and the feeling that we have fallen for someone. Obviously, passion is not just a sexual feeling though passion does tend to entail erotic inclinations. Passion also involves a great amount of emotional, intellectual and spiritual attraction. This attraction allows a person to engulf themselves in the words and actions of a person they are committed to or is interested in without the thought of a dull moment.
Wood further expresses that these three aspects, passion, intimacy and commitment, form the triangle of love. But Wood fails to include two of the most important aspects of a relationship. One of which is trust. Trust can be defined as the belief in one’s reliability. Emotionally relying on one's partner to act in favor of the relationship. Trust is the key to continual commitment, the root of passion and a trigger for intimacy. Trust is one aspect that is not simply granted but is gained over time. When a person puts their trust into another, they feel sure that the other person will act in their favor. This makes relationships stronger. For example, a couple owes $2000 due to credit card debt. The husband brings home a $2100 paycheck and gives two thousand dollars to his wife to pay this credit card bill. By giving her the money, he is trusting that she will pay the bill. This act is favorable for the couple. By her paying this bill, it brings a sense of alleviation, which is followed by intimacy, followed by passion which enables a stronger commitment.
Wood also seems to bypass the theory of investment. Without investment, there is no relationship. Investment involves what we put into a relationship that we could not retrieve if the relationship were to end. Investment includes time, energy, thought and feelings into interaction. We cannot retrieve time, feelings and energy that are invested in a relationship, nor can we recover the past that we have shared with the person. Investment is one aspect that builds trust because it deals with sacrifice and personal choices (Wood, 266).
A Win-Win Situation
It is my own theory that one can resolve a conflict by first going into a disagreement with a feeling that the result will be some sort of compromise that satisfies both parties. This is also the most positive way to approach a conflict. It seems that I was clueless to what a win-win situation was, but now I am pretty confident of its definition.
Recently, an old roommate of mine got into an argument with his girlfriend. He came to me in confidence for advice. It was evident that he was not going to change his mind and that it would be his way or no way. In other words, he had a win-lose approach to the conflict. He would win this disagreement at his girlfriend’s expense. After about an hour of deliberation, I got him to realize what he was doing and I also helped him in his approach to talking to her about it. My advice was to expect compromise. In the end, both parties get what they want. He then approached his girlfriend with his newly found win-win attitude and she in turn gave him what he wanted as he had to sacrifice all unnecessary things that he did not need to make her happy. In the end, both parties are winners.
I must say that Interpersonal Communications is a unique class in the study of Communications. It throws out all aspects of media and focuses on individuals. Interpersonal communications breaks down the difference between man and woman when it comes to talking to one another. Focuses on how to establish and build a committed relationship and how to maintain it. I must say that I learned a great deal about myself and my relationships.
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