From roommate disputes to family arguments, trouble is inevitable in interpersonal relationships. In Everyday Troubles, Robert M. Emerson explores the beginnings and development of the conflicts that occur in our relationships with the people we regularly encounter—family members, intimate partners, coworkers, and others—and the common responses to such troubles.
To examine these issues, Emerson draws on interviews with college roommates, diaries documenting a wide range of irritation with others, conversations with people caring for family members suffering from Alzheimer’s, studies of family interactions, neighborly disputes, and other personal accounts. He considers how people respond to everyday troubles: in non-confrontational fashion, by making low-visibility, often secretive, changes in the relationship more openly by directly complaining to the other person or by involving a third party, such as friends or family. He then examines how some relational troubles escalate toward extreme and even violent responses, in some cases leading to the involvement of outside authorities like the police or mental health specialists.
By calling attention to the range of possible reactions to conflicts in interpersonal relationships, Emerson also reminds us that extreme, even criminal actions often result when people fail to find ways to deal with trouble in moderate, non-confrontational ways. Innovative and insightful, Everyday Troubles is an illuminating look at how we deal with discord in our relationships.
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