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Family and Consumer Sciences

College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources

LIFE - Individual Growth and Development


Communication, the process of exchanging and interpreting ideas and feelings. Communication is the lifeblood of a vital marriage. A strong, steady stream of nutrient-rich communication supplies growth, promotes healing, and delivers protective agents during crisis. Within the body, high levels of coordination among vascular, nervous, muscle, and skeletal systems enables peak performance. Within the couple relationship, clear, open, consistent communication promotes practical problem-solving, affirms closeness, and builds understanding which enhances daily interaction and crisis coping.

Qualities of good communication include…

Talking and Listening Skills

-Exchange: Verbal and non-verbal skills are the heartbeat of couple life

  • Non-verbal communication (body language, context, voice tone, etc.) is the most prevalent and powerful element of couple communication
  • Active listening (attending, validating, paraphrasing, seeking and providing clear feedback) skills is essential to effective communication
-Attribution: Healthy growth or cancer is a product of processing
  • Negative interpretations of partner’s actions (with excusing own negative actions) strongly predict conflict and breakdown in relationships
  • Relationship satisfaction and attributions tend to be reciprocal
Problem Solving

-Context: Physical and mental health affect not only daily functioning, but recovery from disease

  • Problem-focused strategies result in higher marital satisfaction for men and women
  • Gender differences in style and goals can create conflict, but can also add balance to couple problem solving
  • Openness to ideas and feelings, family member needs and contributions, and enjoyment of the process increases the success and satisfaction with problem solving
-Growth: Exercise and healthy lifestyle improve prospects for wellness
  • Training in problem solving skills—followed by regular use--improves interactive processes and outcomes, preventing destructive conflicts and helping to resolve family stresses and crises
Conflict Resolution
  • Accepting, rather than avoiding conflict and handling differences constructively best predicts marital quality
  • Destructive conflict strategies including incessant criticism, contempt, withdrawal, and avoidance/distancing strongly predict relationship breakdown
  • Constructive conflict strategies including calming self, taking time-outs, breaking an issue into parts, taking turns using "I" statements, and seeking professional help
Heartbeat of Love

Take turns sharing ideas and feelings about an upcoming event or decision (start with something you need to discuss, but will probably agree on) using active listening

Thinking about intimacy, power, decision-making, and coping, create a play-dough sculpture which represents what happens to your relationship when individuals, you as a couple, or your family is under stress. Discuss the result and how to reshape the sculpture to handle challenge more effectively.

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