The Relationships Between Conflict, Marital Satisfaction and Couples' Time Spent in Joint Activity
Type of DegreeDissertation
Human Development and Family Studies
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The purpose of this study is to examine the links between marital satisfaction, couples’ time together in joint, leisure activity and relationship conflict. Current literature has established the positive link between marital satisfaction and joint activity, as well as the negative link between marital satisfaction and conflict. Any link between conflict and couples’ low involvement in joint activity has yet to be established. In addition, the inter-workings of all three variables has not previously been considered. Two waves of data (Wave Two & Wave Three) from the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) were used to assess these relationships within and across time. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) analyses affirmed the positive relationship between joint activity and marital satisfaction and the negative relationship between conflict and marital satisfaction. The negative relationship between conflict and joint activity was clearly established. The strength of the direct, negative relationship between conflict and joint activity surpassed the strength of the previously established direct, negative relationship between conflict and marital satisfaction. These results suggest that conflict, over time, has a substantial, negative impact on couples’ marital satisfaction and joint activity. Essentially, more open disagreements make couples’ less inclined to spend time with one another and less enthusiastic about their marriages. It should be noted that these results apply to couples involved in long-term, highly stable marriages and a predominantly Caucasian population. Due to study limitations, future research needs to include a more diverse sample, measures of conflict that include observational level data of couples’ engaging in conflict. Finally, future research needs to include time-incremental measures of time spent in joint activity.