Theory of Distress

Researchers have identified five areas of cognition that are related to distress. Selective inattention refers to distressed partners' tendencies to remember negative relationship events with great clarity, but to have little recall of positive events. Negative attributions occur when distressed partners attribute each other's negative behavior to unchangeable characteristic of the partner rather than to temporary, external circumstances. Partners may also have unrealistic expectancies about the future and assumptions about how relationships operate that contribute to their distress.

Couples Therapy

Finally, partners' standards about what a relationship should be like often interfere with their ability to be satisfied with their current relationship.

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