Research on the Nature and Determinants of Marital Satisfaction: A Decade in Review

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Abstract

Scientific study of marital satisfaction attracted widespread attention in the 1990s from scholars representing diverse orientations and goals. This article highlights key conceptual and empirical advances that have emerged in the past decade, with particular emphasis on (a) interpersonal processes that operate within marriage, including cognition, affect, physiology, behavioral patterning, social support, and violence; (b) the milieus within which marriages operate, including microcontexts (e.g., the presence of children, life stressors and transitions) and macrocontexts (e.g., economic factors, perceived mate availability); and (c) the conceptualization and measurement of marital satisfaction, including 2-dimensional, trajectory-based, and social-cognitive approaches. Notwithstanding the continued need for theoretical progress in understanding the nature and determinants of marital satisfaction, we conclude by calling for more large-scale longitudinal research that links marital processes with sociocultural contexts, for more disconfirmatory than confirmatory research, and for research that directly guides preventive, clinical, and policy-level interventions.

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