Intrapsychic phase - Thinking about it
People reflect on the deficiencies of their relationship, perhaps in terms of costs and benefits. There will be very little outward show of dissatisfaction, there may even be a determination to ‘put things right’. This stage may also include indirect hints to their partner about how they feel.
Dyadic phase - Telling each other
The person decides that the problems need airing and confront the other person on the relationship. This usually includes an argument, with both sides unwilling to take responsibility for the problem. There will be some consideration about how a relationship can be put ‘back on track’… at this point the relationship can still be saved!
Social phase - Telling everyone else
Now the dispute spills over into social networks of friends and family. This can be both good and bad. We need these networks for support if we spilt up… but they can speed up the decision for final break down with revelations about one or other of them.
Grave-dressing phase - Justifying your actions
Having left the relationship the partners attempt to save-face. They will attempt to justify the role they played in the break down in order to portray them in a light that makes them still appear loyal and trustworthy to new partners (two important factors). This may mean that they make excuses about how the other person has ‘changed’ in order to justify their original commitment to the relationship and its subsequent breakdown.
One strength of research into the breakdown of relationships is that it can lead to practical applications. The models and theories set out provide a clear set of processes that people go through during relationship breakdown. This therefore means that counsellors can help couples to identify areas where their relationship has started to go wrong and help the couple to tackle these issues....