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Do You Refer to Yourselves as “We” in a Couple?

Do You Refer to Yourselves as We in a Couple?If you do, congratulations! You’re likely better at conflict resolution with your partner than couples who don’t refer to themselves as “we.” How do we know? Well, conversations can tell us a lot about how couples view themselves, both individually and as a couple. By analyzing conversations between couples, you can learn a lot about their interactions:

UC Berkeley researchers analyzed conversations between 154 middle-aged and older couples about points of disagreement in their marriages and found that those who used pronouns such as “we,” “our” and “us” behaved more positively toward one another and showed less physiological stress.

In contrast, couples who emphasized their “separateness” by using pronouns such as “I,” “me” and “you” were found to be less satisfied in their marriages. This was especially true for older couples.

Their use of separateness pronouns was most strongly linked to unhappy marriages, according to the study.

The findings of this research back up the conventional wisdom expectations we have about couplehood. Couples who feel “connected” are more in tune with their significant other, their needs and moods, and are therefore likely to be more satisfied not only in the relationship, but more generally in their lives. That’s because relationship satisfaction is directly intertwined with our happiness and well-being.

We would generally expect couples who don’t feel very connected to one another to refer to their partner as they would anyone else — a person who’s not a part of the relationship.

Of course, as always, there’s a line between feeling connected with your significant other, and co-dependency. Some might view the constant referral to “we” or “us” in a relationship as a sign of unhealthy co-dependency. But it’s all a matter of degree. Talking about each other and your shared expectations and dreams for your lives is very different than needing to be a part of that person’s every waking moment.

“Individuality is a deeply ingrained value in American society, but, at least in the realm of marriage, being part of a ‘we’ is well worth giving up a bit of ‘me,’” noted the researchers.

Indeed, it’s something to consider next time you find yourself in a conversation with your partner.

This is a great party trick next time you’re in a social gathering with a lot of couples. Make a mental notation when in a conversation with them to see where they fall on the “we”/”I” continuum. It may be that the more a couple uses pronouns like “I,” “you”, “her”, “him” and “me” are a sign of general discontent or unhappiness within the relationship.

Read the full news article: Couples with Shared Identity Better at Conflict Resolution

Do You Refer to Yourselves as “We” in a Couple?


John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.


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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Do You Refer to Yourselves as “We” in a Couple?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 15, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/do-you-refer-to-yourselves-as-we-in-a-couple/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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