Duck’s model of breakdown attempts to explain the process in six steps. It begins with dissatisfaction with how a relationship is conducted, which leads to an intra-psychic process that is characterised by brooding on the partner’s faults and the costs of the relationship. In the dyadic process, people confront their partners and discuss their feelings about the relationship. The relationships may be saved at this point due to a reassessment of goals, possibilities or commitment, or it may break down further.
If further breakdown occurs, social processes will take place, whereby friends and family will offer advice and support. After having left the relationship, grave-dressing processes will commence. Partners strive to construct a representation of the relationship that does not paint their own contribution to the relationship unfavourably. This process often involves emotional distress. In the final resurrection process, each partner prepares for new relationships by learning from the mistakes of the prior relationship.
This model has been largely supported by research evidence. Tashiro & Frazier surveyed students whose relationships had recently broken down. They reported to have experienced emotional distress as well as personal growth, stating that these breakdowns had given them a clearer idea about future relationships. This provides evidence for both the grave-dressing and resurrection processes.
This model had practical applications in counselling. Assessing which stage a couple is in can help to identify what steps should be taken to save the relationship. This model stresses the importance of communication in breakdown: paying attention to what people say and how they interact will help their stage to be identified. Appropriate interventions can then be used.
A study by Akert provided a criticism for this model. Akert found that the instigators of break-ups suffer fewer negative consequences than non-instigators. Duck used the same model for both instigators and non-instigators. This suggests that this model ignores individual differences such as this one.
This model is also perceived to be culturally biased, rooted in Western culture. Many collectivist, non-Western cultures have arranged marriages, which are generally regarded as permanent. Marital crises of these relationships are also seen as the concern of the entire family, not just the couple. Therefore, this model may not apply to non-Western relationships.
In another theory, Duck proposed three reasons as to why relationships break down. One of these is a lack of skills. A partner may lack the interpersonal skills to make the relationship mutually satisfying. They may be a poor conversationalist; poor at indicating their interest in their partner, or their interactions with other people may be generally…