One theory for the breakdown of relationships was put forward by Duck who gave three broad categories as to why relationships break up; pre-existing doom where the failure was inevitable, mechanical failure which is where the couple find themselves drifting apart and sudden death where the discovery of betrayal or infidelity leads to immediate break. Duck also proposed other reasons for relationship dissolution such as lack of skills. A partner may lack the interpersonal skills to make the relationship mutually satisfying. They may be a poor conversationalist or poor at indicating their interest in their partner. Another cause of relationship breakdown is a lack of maintenance. In some circumstances, relationships may become strained due to maintenance difficulties as the partners do not see each other often enough and therefore spend much time apart.
Boekhout et al. asked undergraduates to rate various sexual and emotional reasons for men and women to be unfaithful in a committed relationship. Participants judged that sexual reasons for infidelity such as boredom and sexual excitement would be more likely to be used by men whereas emotional reasons for infidelity such as lack of attention would be more likely to be used by women. Therefore showing how affairs may be the result of a perceived lack of skills and/or stimulation and thus supporting Duck's theory.
Long-distance relationships can be the cause of maintenance difficulties. However, Holt & Stone found that there was little decrease in relationship satisfaction as long as the lovers are able to reunite regularly. This suggests that long-distance relationships may not lead to breakdown as Duck’s explanation would suggest. However, this may be partly due to the increased accessibility to technology which allows long-distance partners to communicate fully.
Social skills have been found to be important to relationships. Couples Coping Enhancement Training(CCET) aims to increase respect and improve communication between partners. Cina et al. compared 50 couples (average length of relationship 12 years) who receives CCET training with a control group who didn’t. Results showed that the CCET group reported much higher marital quality after training compared to the control group. This demonstrates the importance of social skills in relationships.
A criticism of this model is that it ignores gender