This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Association Between Sexual and Relationship Satisfaction: Mediated by Perceptions of Relational Power




Smith, Mary

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Human Development and Family Science


The goal of the current study was to determine the influence of equitable power balance on relationship satisfaction for couples in therapy. The Relational Theory of Power emphasizes that power is held within one’s standing within a relationship and is fluid. Previous studies establish a relationship between sexual and relationship satisfaction without considering power in decision making, children within the relationship. Likewise, the studies use community rather than clinical samples. The current study utilized existing data from the Auburn University Marriage and Family Therapy Center (AUMFT) and tested a mediation model to determine the possible mediation effects of power dynamics and sexual satisfaction on relationship satisfaction while controlling for children, violence, and relationship length. Hierarchical multiple regression indicates that power balance plays a mediating role in the relationship between sexual and relational satisfaction for males, but not for females. Separately, improved sexual satisfaction and more balance in decision-making in the relationship are associated with enhanced relationship satisfaction for females and males. The results implications are reviewed.