Marital satisfaction and communication behaviors during sexual and nonsexual conflict discussions in newlywed couples: A pilot study

Uzma S. Rehman, Erick Janssen, Sarah Newhouse, Julia Heiman, Amy Holtzworth-Munroe, Erin Fallis, Eshkol Rafaeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations

Abstract

The way couples communicate during conflict discussions has been found to be a reliable predictor of marital satisfaction. However, in previous research, there has been little experimental control over the selection of topics. The present study examined, in a sample of 15 newlywed couples, whether affective displays during the discussion of a sexual and a nonsexual conflict topic differentially predict current marital satisfaction. Communication behaviors were coded using an adaptation of the Specific Affect Coding System, resulting in composite "negative behavior" and "positive behavior" categories. Data were analyzed using multilevel modeling. Negative behaviors displayed during the nonsexual conflict discussions were not significantly related to concurrent self-reported relationship satisfaction. In contrast, for wives, negative behaviors displayed during the discussion of a sexual problem were significantly related to lower levels of relationship satisfaction. For the sexual and nonsexual conflict discussions, positive behaviors were positively associated with relationship satisfaction, although this effect did not reach statistical significance. Overall, the authors' findings emphasize the importance of incorporating sexual variables in the study of marriage. Furthermore, their study represents an important step in recognizing that marital research benefits from an examination of specific topics of conflict as a factor to consider in studies of marital functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-103
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Sex and Marital Therapy
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this project came from the Faculty Research Support Program, Indiana University.

Funding

Funding for this project came from the Faculty Research Support Program, Indiana University.

FundersFunder number
Indiana University

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