Newswise — "Sorry seems to be the hardest word," if you buy into that old Elton John tune. But maybe it's not worth sweating over.
That's because the most common thing that couples want from each other during a blowup is not a mea culpa but rather the willingness to bend a little and give up some power, according to a Baylor University researcher.
Giving up power comes in many forms, among them giving a partner more independence, admitting faults, showing respect and being willing to compromise, says Baylor psychologist Keith Sanford, Ph.D. His research has been published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.
Following closely behind the desire for shared control was the wish for the partner to show more investment in the relationship through such ways as sharing intimate thoughts or feelings, listening, and sharing chores and activities.
In another study, Sanford found that when people express anger, they often also feel sad. But while a partner will easily and immediately recognize expressions of anger, the spouse often will fail to notice the sadness.
"When it comes to perceiving emotion in a partner, anger trumps sadness," he said. Previous research has found that genuine expressions of sadness during a conflict can sometimes draw partners closer together, and it potentially can enable couples to break out of a climate of anger.
To interview Sanford, contact Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor's media communications, at (254) 710-3321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.