Associations among Marital Satisfaction, Sexual Satisfaction, Conflict Frequency, and Divorce Risk from 1980 to 2000
Type of Degreedissertation
Human Development and Family Studies
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Marital satisfaction and divorce risk are two intricately related phenomena that influence or are influenced by several aspects of marriage. Specifically, sexual satisfaction and conflict frequency are two commonly studied relational variables that influence marital satisfaction, but the influence that these three variables, taken together, exert on each other is unclear. Marital satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and conflict frequency influence if individuals will experience a divorce, but the longitudinal influences of these aspects of marriage on divorce risk is unknown. Study 1 examined the influence that marital satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and conflict frequency exert on each other during the middle to late years of marriage between 1980 and 2000 at 6 different points in time. Study 2 examined the 20 year influence of marital satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and conflict frequency on divorce risk. All participants were European American married individuals who had been married an average of 13 to 14 years at the beginning of the study. The data were analyzed using a cross-lagged simplex model and a discrete-time survival analysis. Sex differences were tested. Study 1 found that conflict frequency was associated with less sexual satisfaction for men and sexual satisfaction was associated with less conflict frequency for women in the later marital years of the study. From 1980 to 2000, marital satisfaction at one time point was linked to less conflict frequency at the next time point. The relationship between marital satisfaction and sexual satisfaction was reciprocal across consecutive time points. Study 2 found that divorce risk is highest between 1983 and 1988, approximately 17 to 22 years after marriage. Implications for researchers and practitioners are discussed.