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Moral Talk Across the Lifespan

Creating Good Relationships

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Edited By Vince Waldron and Douglas Kelley

Grounded in path-breaking research but written in an accessible, engaging style Moral Talk Across the Lifespan explores how our most fundamental moral commitments are shaped by crucial conversations with family members, romantic partners, and friends. Taking a lifespan approach, the authors demonstrate that moral growth is a continual process, one stimulated by transitions (e.g., leaving home for university) and disruptive events (serious illness). With chapters penned by leading relationship scholars, the volume contributes original thinking, data, and innovative theoretical pathways for researchers. For instructors it explores pressing moral questions encountered by students in their own relationships with romantic partners, friends, parents, and other family members. When is revealing a secret the right thing to do? Is revenge ever a worthy response to an insult or sleight? Why are young adults persuaded to accept some of their parents’ values but not others? Is there a right (or wrong) way to support a parent facing a terminal illness?
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.
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Chapter Nine: Mindfulness as Morality: Awareness, Nonjudgment, and Nonreactivity in Couples’ Communication

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CHAPTER NINE

Mindfulness AS Morality

Awareness, Nonjudgment, and Nonreactivity in Couples’ Communication

VALERIE MANUSOV



Most of us want what we would consider to be a good primary love relationship. That is, we want a space where we can, for example, be ourselves and connect deeply to another. The criteria we may have for such a relationship can vary across the people who hold those judgments (that is, I may want one thing out of a close relationship; my neighbor may have a very different idea about an ideal or good bond). But the subject of what is and how to create relationships that reflect our best sense of what matters to us (i.e., our morality) has produced an abundance of scholarship.

Whereas there is still much to be learned about how intimate pairs communicate with one another—for good or for ill—one thing we know is that couple members respond to each other through interpretive lenses they develop over time. That is, when our partner acts a certain way (for example, he talks a lot about his past, or she brings home an unexpected gift), we make sense of the action through a set of existing beliefs, experiences, and emotions we have about that partner, our relationship, and ourselves.

The set of constructs through which we understand our partner’s behavior—or any behavior, for that matter, including our own—has been referred...

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