PARADOX OF INTIMATE COMPARISON AND EMPATHIC REFLECTION IN RELATIONSHIP MAINTENANCE: SIMILARITY-DISSIMILARITY PATHWAYS IN MEASURING COUPLES’ PERFORMANCE ECOLOGY
Every marriage is intended to be successful through the combined efforts of the man and woman, who are expected to “work well together”. Working well together is usually the outcome of matching the couple’s strengths and weaknesses to arrive at a complementary outcome. This depends on what they brought into the union as their performance ecology. This study aimed at developing a scale to measure couples’ performance ecology in their romantic relationship. Items were generated through focus group discussions and literature review. Derived items were subjected to face and content validity, item analysis as well as principal component analysis using 1328 participants. The emerging scale has six factors (discriminated from decreasing Eigen values) including comparison distress, genetic incompatibility, reflective pride, progressive talk, relational economics and parenting acumen. The scale was also compared with four other measures to verify convergent and divergent validities. We arrived at a valid and reliable scale (with a Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of .80) which is recommended for assessment and therapeutic intervention among couples. It has been shown that when couples are capable of demonstrating intimate comparison and empathic reflection in times of relational challenges, they are likely to cooperatively strengthen their relationship through enhanced relationship quality.
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