A Study of Expectations and the Marital Quality of Participants of a Marital Enrichment Seminar


  • Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee–Knoxville, 310-B Austin Peay Building, Knoxville, TN 37996-0900.

  • Cincinnati VA Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, 3200 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45220.

Department of Psychology, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469-1430 (lee.dixon@udayton.edu).


This longitudinal study investigated the effects of expectations of effort of self and spouse on the marital quality of marital enrichment seminar participants. Self-report measures of marital quality, expectations regarding effort put into implementing what was learned during the seminar, amount of perceived effort, and satisfaction with effort were administered before and after the seminar, as well as at a 2-month follow-up. Participants (147 women, 95 men) attended community-based marital enrichment seminars in 12 U.S. cities. Multivariate path models indicated that larger discrepancies between expectations of effort postseminar and perceived effort at 2-month follow-up were associated with less satisfaction with perceived effort. Furthermore, participants' dissatisfaction in their spouses' effort had a negative effect on marital quality while controlling for initial marital quality, whereas dissatisfaction in their own effort did not. These findings highlight the possible detrimental effect that unmet spousal expectations can have. Implications for marital enrichment programs and couples therapy are discussed.