This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Meta Marriage: Links between Older Couples' Narratives and Marital Satisfaction




Brown, Alexandra

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


The current study was designed to explore the associations between older spouses’ interactions during a relationship narrative task and their self-reported levels of marital satisfaction. We gathered data from 62 older married couples from the observations of dimensions of their interactions (e.g., positive affect, communication skills) during the joint narrative task. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were then conducted to reveal the unique contributions of one’s own observed communication behaviors, those of one’s spouses, and dyadic behaviors to marital satisfaction. Results revealed that husbands’ observed communication behaviors (e.g., non-verbal, expressivity) were significantly positively related to their own and their wives’ self-reported marital satisfaction. Further, wives’ positivity (e.g., laughing, showing affection) was significantly positively associated with their husbands’ reported marital satisfaction, although not with their own. Possible explanations for these findings and future directions are discussed with respect to previous research on gender differences and developmental changes in older adulthood.