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Evaluation in Marital Therapy: Marital Dyad Factors

There are all types of factors to collect about the marital dyad. In my next blog of this series, I will go over the areas that the authors of The Evaluation and Treatment of Marital Conflict explain as key to assess when developing a treatment plan. 

Emotional Climate

To begin, the authors describe an emotional climate using the terms:

  1. Safety

  2. Is the relationship a safe place? If so, people are more likely to be relaxed instead of tense.

  3. Temperature

  4. Is the temperature hot or cold? The temperature can rapidly cycle in troubled marriages.

  5. Turbulence

  6. Is there active conflict? Small mistakes cause conflict during turbulent periods. Partner don’t give each other the benefit of the doubt.

Relationship Maintenance

In addition, couples may get distracted with life. Consequently, marriage gets the back burner. Relationships need time and effort invested in communication of facts and personal thoughts for them to last. The authors suggest taking at look at 5 key factors:

  1. The degree of openness.

  2. The type of information exchange or engagement in self-disclosure.

  3. Character: Is your partner critical, laudatory, or affectionate?

  4. Credibility for the other’s communication.

  5. Nonverbal communication: tone, facial expression, and body posture.

Moreover, these 2 types of quality activity and time are important:

  1. Activity together — Participating a shared activity.

  2. Relationship time — Being there for each other and interacting on a personal level.

The balance between these two types of relationship time and maintenance is essential. How can you make time together count as a couple?

Degree of Fusion

Lastly, fusion is best understood by the components listed below.

  1. Personal boundaries refer to how partners interact. Boundaries should not be rigid and can differ with each partner. Boundaries change with the alternating cycles of connection and distance.

  2. The individual’s temperament that was shaped by the family of origin determines if one is a pursuer or distantcer. Key components include:

  3. Affinity for relationship time  vs. identity for alone time 

  4. Expression of thoughts vs. avoidance of them

  5. Relatively non-selective permeability of personal boundaries vs. overly selective permeability 

  6. Fast vs slow personal rhythm.

  7. Reciprocal functioning refers to the the way a couple depends on their partner’s way of operating. The strength of one spouse’s preference can prevent their partner from reciprocating. The increasing interdependence sometimes causes functioning to become reciprocal. Meaning, when one spouse functions well, the other functions poorly. Sometimes this moves back and forth, and some times it becomes relatively fixed. If the state of reciprocal functioning is relatively fixed, the relationship is likely to be more emotionally dysfunctional.

Lastly, the authors evaluate major issues in the marital conflict when evaluating factors of the marital dyad. Next week, we will dive specifically and solely into those main issues.

Take a look at the factors discussed so far. See if you can identify if you or your spouse is struggling in one or more of these areas. Give Amy Wine Counseling Center a call at 832-421-8714 for more information about our therapeutic services. 


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