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In the midst of conflict, it's sometimes difficult to determine if the argument is hostile or actually a misunderstanding. However, according to Elaine Johannes, Kansas State University Extension family and community mental health specialist, if the conflict intentionally humiliates, degrades, belittles or antagonizes, there is no confusion whether or not the conflict comes from conversational style differences; it's definitely abuse.

One theory that examines the lack of understanding between women and men is attributed to gender differences in the ways they speak. Problems may exist when couples ignore these differences in conversational styles. The differences are neither good or bad, but when they are taken to extremes they can be hurtful. Look to see if there are key differences in your relationship with your partner. Remember, there are many exceptions to the gender styles.