The investigation of marital conflict has reached a crossroads. Over 25 years of research on marital conflict behavior yields a relatively clear picture of its topography, but its relevance for changing the marital relationship remains controversial. We can continue to amass observations in a relatively atheoretical manner and hope that patterns capable of guiding clinical activity will emerge, or we can begin creating a unified theoretical framework to indicate new directions for clinical activity and empirical investigation. Before exploring the latter option, this chapter reviews briefly the impact of marital conflict on mental, physical, and family health and what is known about the nature of conflict in marriage. After highlighting some recent theoretically grounded advances, we illustrate how conceptualizing marital conflict behavior as goal directed provides an integrative theoretical framework for treatment, prevention, and marital conflict research.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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