Creating Good Relationships
Edited By Vince Waldron and Douglas Kelley
Moral Talk Across the Lifespan offers a stimulating blend of social science research and moral reflection. It is a key text for courses in Relational Communication, Family Communication, Interpersonal Communication, and Communication Ethics.
Chapter Four:Just Marriage
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DOUGLAS KELLEY *
“I always have to initiate.” “You never help with the kids.” “I can’t get a word in edgewise!” “THAT’S NOT FAIR!” Couples, almost instinctively, know when their relationship, or parts of their relationship, is out of balance, unequal, unfair. One lens with which relational partners view their marriages is justice (Canary & Stafford, 2007; Kelley, 2012a; 2012b). The recognition of relationship dynamics, such as equity, inequality, power, bargaining and distribution, attribution, and guilt, reveal a justice ethic that is present in the communication interactions of personal relationship partners (Bierhoff, Buck, & Klein, 1986; Greenberg & Cohen, 1982; Stafford, 2003).
While various forms of justice are manifest in personal relationships, distributive justice, often conceptualized as equity (Adams, 1965; Homans, 1961, 1974; Cohen & Greenberg, 1982), has been identified as a significant feature of intimate relationships. For example, Canary and Stafford (1992; Stafford & Canary, 2006) have identified equity as a significant component of marriage maintenance, though there has been some debate as to the role of distributive justice in married partners’ decisions to maintain their relationships (Canary & Stafford, 1992, 2007; Ragsdale & Brandau-Brown, 2005, 2007; Stafford & Canary, 2006). In addition, it has been suggested that procedural justice is the key component in analyzing whether any given dispute resolution is just (Thibaut & Walker, 1975). ← 75 | 76 →
The focus of this essay is to examine couples’ interpersonal forgiveness narratives...
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