Dr. Douglas Kelley,
Arizona State University
Forgiving is not condoning; hurtful actions have consequences. Yet
couples who communicate forgiveness may hold the key to stable marriages.
This research will study how spouses, married 25 years or more,
ask for and offer forgiveness.
What makes some marriages
last a lifetime, while others falter and fall apart?
According to Professor
Douglas Kelley of Arizona State University West, the key to long-term
conjugal bliss may be in how well a couple communicates forgiveness.
Kelley, a Professor
in Communication Studies, will explore the communication of forgiveness
among couples in Sun City Grand Retirement Community near Phoenix,
AZ who have been married 25 years or more. Building on his previous
research, Kelley will study the couples' strategies for seeking
and granting forgiveness. All the couples he will work with have
been married 25 years or more. "These pairs have worked hard to
maintain their relationships for over a quarter of a century. What
did they do right?" he asks.
Much forgiveness research,
to date, examines forgiveness in therapeutic settings, however,
Kelley's goal is to identify how forgiveness plays a part in these
couples' daily lives.
Through a series of
qualitative interviews, Kelley's team of researchers will examine
how each couple has dealt with forgiveness and expressed forgiveness
over the length of their partnership. "I believe in the process
of story telling," says Kelley. "I want to provide a way for participants
to tell this information in their own words."
Kelley hopes to learn
not only what makes marriages work, but what drives people to ask
for, and to give, forgiveness. "These days the notion of equality,
an eye for an eye, is prominent," says Kelley. "That makes forgiveness
counter-intuitive - but at the same time a lot of people who don't
call themselves religious or spiritual are forgiving one another.
Is it because they sense that they will reap the benefits of forgiving
for years to come, or is there some other motive?"
Additionally, he points
to the myths that many people believe about forgiveness, "Forgiveness
is not the same thing as condoning the other person's behavior,
nor does it mean that there are no consequences to our actions,"
Kelley seeks to gain
a greater understanding of the ways that forgiveness can strengthen
relationships. In the end, he hopes that embracing and communicating
forgiveness can provide a sense of well-being and stability for
couples living in an increasingly stressed society.
Dr. Douglas Kelley
is an Assistant Professor in Communication Studies at Arizona State
University West in Phoenix. He has a Ph.D. in Communications from
the University of Arizona, as well as degrees in counseling and
religious studies. He is a member of the editorial board for Family
Communication, the publication of the National Communication Association
and gives seminars on marital and family communication to churches
and other organizations. Dr. Kelley also loves traveling with his