Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Sells, James Nathan, 1958-

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Marriage; Intimacy (Psychology); Differentiation (Cognition); Interpersonal relations


This study attempted to create a model of marital satisfaction. Many variables have been studied as to their significance in predicting satisfaction. These variables include presence of children, length of marriage, spouse's level of education, spousal support, gender role attitudes, division of labor, income, retirement, previous marriages, cohabitation prior to marriage, and personality. However, no study has attempted to combine these variables and determine which variables have a greater impact in predicting marital satisfaction. Also, theories of marriage success suggested marital satisfaction would be influenced by a couple's level of intimacy and individuals' levels of differentiation. The work on intimacy is still fairly young, in that definitions of intimacy vary. Researchers also differ over methods of assessing intimacy. Differentiation, as developed by Murray Bowen, is a well-accepted theoretical concept believed to affect a person's ability to relate to another in an intimate relationship. However, little research has been conducted about differentiation, and previous research findings have not consistently supported Bowen's concept. This study attempted to integrate theories of intimacy and differentiation with previously studied relationship variables to generate a predictive model of marital satisfaction. Married couples were invited to participate in the study, and the sample varied in age, length of marriage, income, number of children, and education. Findings from this study suggested couples data provides the most accurate information for assessing marriage, as opposed to using reports from only one spouse. Also, this study found evidence supporting intimacy as a strong variable in predicting and understanding marital satisfaction. However, this study found no relationship between differentiation and marital satisfaction. Spousal support was also found to be one of the strongest variables for predicting husband and wife marital satisfaction. Length of marriage, children, age, prior cohabitation, division of labor, and income were not found to be significant predictors of satisfaction.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [183]-190)


vii, 212 pages




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