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Basically compatible partners may demonstrate a whole lot of conflict, but they don't often become contemptuous and angry with their partners, because there are by definition few things that they will disagree upon.

In contrast, partners who start out with incompatible goals, values or dreams are far more likely to get into seemingly irresolvable conflicts.

Acting on this belief, spouses often try to resolve their conflicts by repeatedly stating and restating their respective rationals during disagreements.

The "four horsemen" breakdown sequence plays out amongst the backdrop of partner compatibility.Most people find conflict and contempt to be stressful and react to such conditions by entering the third stage of breakdown, characterized by partner's increasingly defensive behavior.Men in particular (but women too) become hardened by the chronicity of the ongoing conflict, and may react even more acutely during moments when conflict is most heated by becoming overwhelmed and "flooded"; a condition which is psychologically and emotionally quite painful.Importantly, the 'bad' behavior that the spouse demonstrates doesn't have to be something he or she actually does.Instead, it could be something that he or she doesn't do, that the spouse expects them to do (such as rembering to put the toilet seat down after use).

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