Home Couples & Family Psychology Developmental LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XI. STORMING IN AN ENDURING RELATIONSHIP

LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XI. STORMING IN AN ENDURING RELATIONSHIP

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The “Twenty-Four Hour” Rule

We will leave this world of conflict and turmoil by turning to one couple that seems to have done a very effective job of managing their conflicts They taught us their “twenty-four hour” rule. When asked how they have been able to maintain harmony and happiness in their marriage, Chuck and Terry point to their commitment to discuss things together (Terry: “we have a rule of not going to bed pissed at each other”) and, in particular, their “twenty-four hour” rule. According to Chuck:

We . . . have a twenty-four hour rule. If you’re angry about something but don’t bring it up within 24 hours, then the issue is dropped. It’s not fair to store up things that you are angry about and expect to deal with it two weeks later. Being able to communicate is real important.

While Chuck and Terry are both rather youthful idealists (being in their early 30s) and have only been together for eight years, they offer a very intriguing rule. Each partner is required not only to recognize that a problem exists, but also to decide whether or not this problem is important enough to discuss with their partner. They know that they can’t store up their grievances, nor can they simply hold off in deciding whether or not to bring up the problem. We might all be able to benefit from the wisdom of this young couple and devise our own ways of surfacing our conflicts, deciding what is and is not important, and playing fair in the fights that we do have.

While there is no cookbook recipe for one ideal method of communicating in the storming stage of relationships, our enduring couples demonstrated an ability to articulate their feelings, needs and desires. They often shift patterns of managing conflict and emerged from a storming stage with a negotiated set of behaviors that would better serve them in the future as they face new challenges as a couple.

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