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ORIGINAL ARTICLE Table of Contents  
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Correlation of factors associated with marital satisfaction-A cross-sectional study from an urban place in Andhra Pradesh


1 Junior Consultant, Department of Psychiatry, Indlas VIMHANS Hospital Vijayawada, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Counseling Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry, Indlas VIMHANS Hospital Vijayawada, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India
3 Senior Consultant Cum PG Teacher, Department of Psychiatry, Indlas VIMHANS Hospital Vijayawada, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India
4 Lecturer in Statistics, Department of Community Medicine, NRI Medical College, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India

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Date of Submission03-Oct-2021
Date of Acceptance18-Jan-2022
Date of Web Publication08-Apr-2022
 

  Abstract 


Context: Marriage is an age-old tradition that has become an essential custom for the survival and evolution of human beings. Marital satisfaction is the most essential aspect of a marriage. It is an important psychological construct affecting individual and relational well-being. Multiple factors affect marital satisfaction, and research related to these factors is scarce in India.
Aims: We aimed to study the association between various sociodemographic factors, attachment styles, sexual satisfaction, and marital satisfaction.
Materials and Methods: It was a cross-sectional, correlational study done on 80 subjects who were selected by purposive sampling method. A semi-structured pro forma was used to collect sociodemographic data. ENRICH (Evaluation and Nurturing Relationship Issues, Communication, and Happiness Marital Satisfaction scale was used to assess marital satisfaction. Index of Sexual Satisfaction was used for rating sexual satisfaction. A relationship questionnaire was used to measure the adult attachment style. Descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were done to find the relation between different study variables.
Results: Among sociodemographic variables, gender (P = 0.03), ongoing conflicts (P < 0.001), and the attachment style of the subjects (P < 0.001) had shown a statistically significant relationship with marital satisfaction. Problems in the area of sexual satisfaction had a negative correlation with marital satisfaction (r = −663, P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Although marital satisfaction is culturally dependent, attachment styles, ongoing conflicts in one's relationship, and sexual satisfaction are some of the common factors associated with marital satisfaction across cultures.

Keywords: Attachment, marital, marriage, sex


How to cite this URL:
Goud SS, Swayntika A, Indla V, Kolli NS. Correlation of factors associated with marital satisfaction-A cross-sectional study from an urban place in Andhra Pradesh. Arch Ment Health [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2022 Nov 29]. Available from: https://www.amhonline.org/preprintarticle.asp?id=342750





  Introduction Top


Marriage is a tradition in our society that has existed for ages. It is an institution where two individuals from different families and different sociocultural backgrounds come together to become one. Marriage has become an essential custom for the survival and evolution of human beings. A couple enters their marital life with many dreams, hopes, and aspirations. True happiness in marriage lies in setting aside their differences and adjusting with each other. Marital satisfaction is the most essential aspect of a marriage. It is one of the basic and deepest human pleasures one thrives for. It is commonly found to be a key predictor of both individual and relational well-being. In India, marriage is considered an almost holy and spiritual institution. It is considered as an irreversible bond lasting the whole life.

Although marital satisfaction is universal, it is culturally influenced.

Hawkins defined marital satisfaction as subjective feelings of happiness, satisfaction, and pleasure experienced by the couple when all aspects of their marriage are considered. Spanier and Cole defined marital satisfaction as a subjective evaluation of how an individual feels about his/her spouse, his/her marriage, and his/her marital relationship.[1]

The personality of the spouse, affection between couples, nonsexual intimacy, shared hobbies, shared religious beliefs, and adult attachment styles are some of the factors found to be affecting marital satisfaction. Attachment refers to the internal working models individuals hold in the context of intimate relationships. This is the basis of people's understanding of and expectations about relationships and guide their social interactions and experiences.[2]

Another important dimension is sexual satisfaction in one's marriage. There are several definitions of sexual satisfaction. One of the most accepted definitions was proposed by Lawrance and Byers (1995), who defined it as “an affective response arising from one's subjective evaluation of the positive and negative dimensions associated with one's sexual relationship.”[3] Sex plays an important role in one's marital life. A couple's happiness in their sex life affects the happiness of their marital life.[4] Research has shown that sexual frequency, sexual satisfaction, and warm interpersonal climate are associated with greater marital satisfaction.[5] Past studies have shown that partners with greater marital satisfaction report experiencing fewer negative life events, better communication, less psychological distress, and overall better health.[6] As marital satisfaction significantly affects other domains of life, studying the correlates associated with marital satisfaction is an important topic of research. Although much research on this is done in western countries, there very few studies examined the correlates of marital satisfaction in India. This research aims to study the association between various sociodemographic variables, attachment styles, sexual satisfaction, and marital satisfaction.


  Materials and Methods Top


This study had a cross-sectional design and a purposive sampling method was used to select the study subjects. The study sample consisted of married persons between the ages of 25–50 years, who were graduates, well versed with the English language, and willing to participate in the study. After obtaining approval from the institutional ethics committee, the study was done between February 01, 2021, and August 31, 2021. The study subjects were selected from the members of a large gated community in Vijayawada. A total of 120 subjects were approached, of which 80 subjects fulfilling the inclusion criteria were selected for the study [[Appendix 1] for selection procedure]. A semi-structured pro forma was used to collect sociodemographic data. ENRICH (Evaluation and Nurturing Relationship Issues, Communication, and Happiness) Marital Satisfaction (EMS) Scale was used to assess marital satisfaction. It was developed by Blaine J. Fowers and David H. Olson in 1993. It is a 15-item comprising the Idealistic Distortion Scale (5 items) and Marital Satisfaction Scales (10 items). The EMS has good internal consistency and test–retest reliability (Cronbach's alpha of 0.86). Higher scores indicate greater marital satisfaction.[7] Index of Sexual Satisfaction (ISS) developed by Hudson was used for rating sexual satisfaction. This is a 25-item scale completed by the subjects rated from 0 to 7 Likert scale. There are two cutoff scores for this scale. The first is a score of 30 (±5). Scores below this point indicate an absence of a clinically significant problem. Scores above 30 indicate the likelihood of a clinically significant problem. The second cutoff score is 70. Scores above this point nearly always indicate that clients are experiencing a severe problem in their sexual life.[8] A relationship questionnaire by Bartholomew and Horowitz was used to measure the adult attachment style. This is a 4-item questionnaire designed to measure adult attachment style. Based on the response, the subject is categorized into secure, fearful, preoccupied, or dismissing type of attachment style.[9]

Statistical analysis

Data entry and analysis were performed using Microsoft Excel (2019) and R environment version 3.4.4 (Vienna, Austria).

Descriptive statistics

Continuous variables were reported as mean with standard deviation (SD) and categorical variables were reported as a number with the percentage of the total.

Inferential statistics

The Pearson correlation coefficient test was used to study the relationship between marital satisfaction, years of marriage, and sexual satisfaction, whereas the Chi-square test was used to find the relationship between marital satisfaction and all other variables.

For all analyses, the probability level considered to indicate statistical significance was set at P < 0.05.


  Results Top


In our study, the majority of the subjects (53.75%, n = 43) were between 30 and 40 years of age, and the mean age of the subjects was 34.13 years (SD ± 5.97). Females accounted for more than half of the subjects (55%, n = 45), while males constituted the rest 45% (n = 35). More than half of the subjects (51.25%, n = 41) in our study were graduates. Majority (48.75%, n = 39) of the subjects belonged to the Hindu religion. More than three-fourth (82.5%, n = 66) of the subjects were living in nuclear families. More than half of the subjects, 52.5% (n = 42), belonged to the upper social class. More than three-fourth of the study subjects (83.75%, n = 67) were either working in private companies or self-employed. Arranged marriages were seen in 55% (n = 44) of the subjects. The mean duration of marriage was 5.57 years (SD ± 4.14). More than half of the subjects (58.75%, n = 47) had at least one living kid, while 41.25% (n = 33) reported not having a kid. Ongoing conflicts in their marital life were observed in 21.25% (n = 17) of the subjects. Near three-fourth (78.75%, n = 63) subjects reported their attachment style as secure attachment [Table 1].
Table 1: Sociodemographic data of study subjects

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The mean score of the ISS scale was 51.23 (SD ± 18.72) [Table 2].
Table 2: Index of Sexual Satisfaction Score

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The mean score of ENRICH marital satisfaction scale was 48.47 (SD ± 15.94) [Table 3].
Table 3: ENRICH Marital Satisfaction score

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Relationship between study variables

Among sociodemographic variables, gender (P = 0.03), ongoing conflicts (P < 0.001), and the attachment style of the subjects (P < 0.001) had shown a statistically significant relationship with marital satisfaction. Problems in the area of sexual satisfaction had a negative correlation with marital satisfaction (r = −663, P < 0.001). No statistically significant relationship was found between marital satisfaction and other study variables [Table 4] and [Table 5].
Table 4: Baseline variable comparison with ENRICH Marital Satisfaction scores

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Table 5: Correlation between marital satisfaction and years of marriage and sexual satisfaction (Pearson correlation coefficient)

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  Discussion Top


Gender

Research had shown that men report more marital satisfaction than women.[10],[11],[12],[13] This was replicated in our study also, which had shown a statistically significant difference (P = 0.03) between gender and marital satisfaction. Gender roles and gender norms in a given society also determine the relationship between gender and marital satisfaction [Table 4].

Age

Marital satisfaction fluctuates as a function of age and at developmental stages. Middle-aged couples have an increase in responsibilities such as childbirth, financial problems related to child rearing, because of which they might report less marital satisfaction than younger and old age couples. This was reflected in a study on the effect of age on marital satisfaction done by Schmitt et al., which found couples in old age were more satisfied.[14] Lee and Shehan found a contrary result that age was negatively related to marital satisfaction.[15] We could not find any significant association between the age of the subjects and marital satisfaction (P = 0.15) [Table 4].Our study sample consists of mostly young subjects (mean age of the subjects in our study was 34.13 ± 5.97), which could possibly explain this difference.

Education, occupation, and socioeconomic status

There were not many studies that studied the relationship between education, occupation, and marital satisfaction. A study done in the Netherlands by Janssen et al. found that highly educated women had higher rates of unstable marriages and less marital satisfaction.[16] Ziaee et al., in their study on married women employees of an organization, found a positive correlation between the level of education and marital satisfaction.[17] Jackson et al. found lower socioeconomic status associated with instability in marital life.[18] This was in synchrony with the theory of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which stated that fulfillment of basic needs is essential before thinking of emotional and intimate well-being. We have not observed any relationship between marital satisfaction and education (P = 0.27), occupation (P = 0.72), or socioeconomic status (P = 0.14) of the subjects in our study [Table 4].

Religiosity

Couples with similar religious beliefs have common values and norms; thus, religion creates a cohesion within the family and reduces the possibility of divorce. Marks, in their study, found a positive association between religion and marital satisfaction,[19] which we could not establish in our study (P = 0.36) [Table 4].

Duration of marriage

In our study, there was a significant negative correlation (r = −0.29, P = 0.009) between years of marriage and marital satisfaction [Table 5].

Karney and Bradbury found that the effect of duration of marriage on marital satisfaction was negative (it decreases with relationship length) or U-shaped (it decreases in the beginning and increases after some time).[20]

Type of marriage

Xiaohe and Whyte reported that marital satisfaction was low in arranged marriages, particularly in the early days.[21] Raina and Maity, in their study done in Bangalore, observed that marital satisfaction was high in arranged marriage couples compared to love marriage couples.[22] We did not find any significant relationship between marital satisfaction and type of marriage in our study (P = 0.48) [Table 4].

Children

Previous studies from different cultures found contradictory results regarding the correlation of the number of children and marital satisfaction. Our study found no statistical significance between the number of kids and marital satisfaction (P = 0.06). A study done by White and Edward found that the absence of children had a positive impact on marital happiness,[23] and the negative association between the number of children and marital satisfaction was well-documented in other studies.[24],[25] In contrast, Nelson et al. observed couples with children reported higher levels of happiness and positive emotions compared to those who did not have children[26] [Table 4]. Lack of personal time and disagreement over childcare could act as negative emotions, whereas sense of having children and becoming parents could act as positive emotions in marital life. Different sociocultural perspectives of having children and parenthood could explain these differences in results.

Attachment style

Adult attachment styles had shown a strong association with marital satisfaction (P < 0.001) in our study [Table 4]. Mohammad et al., in their study on 146 couples, found that attachment style and lifestyle factors predict marital satisfaction. However, they reported no meaningful relationship between secure attachment style and marital satisfaction in their study.[27] Shah et al., in their study, found that individuals with secure attachment styles reported greater marital satisfaction.[28] In general, people with a secure attachment style experience more happiness and satisfaction in their relationships than with insecure attachment styles.

Ongoing conflicts and marital satisfaction

We found ongoing conflicts in the relationship were one of the most significant factors determining marital satisfaction (P < 0.001) [Table 4]. Previous studies showed that ongoing conflicts had a significant negative impact on marital quality and satisfaction.[29],[30] Relationship conflict is a significant source of stress, and any ongoing conflict thus can negatively affect the well-being of the marriage.

Sexual satisfaction

In our study, we had studied the relationship between problems in sexual satisfaction and marital satisfaction. Subjects with higher sexual dysfunction reported less marital satisfaction (r = 0.663, P < 0.001). Previous studies have found that sexual satisfaction and marital satisfaction were positively correlated and having a good sexual life is an integral part of a happy married life[17],[31] [Table 5]. Dissatisfaction in sexual life leads to feelings of deprivation and frustration and negatively affects mental health of the spouse resulting in marital dissatisfaction.

Limitations and strengths

Several limitations of this study should be considered. The sample size in our study was small and we used the purposive sampling method. Sample size calculation was not done. The sample comprised only educated people with minimum qualification of graduation and all of them were chosen from a single place only, resulting in sampling bias; hence, generalization of the results needed to be done carefully.

The cross-sectional study design might not capture a dynamic variable such as marital satisfaction.

Despite its limitations, this is the first study of its kind done on the relationship between sociodemographic factors, attachment styles, sexual satisfaction, and marital satisfaction. The scales used in the study have good reliability and internal consistency. Considering the personality profiles, choosing a large sample of the population with a follow-up study design will yield much better insight into the construct of marital satisfaction.

CONCLUSIONS

Marital satisfaction is the most important factor in the sustenance of the bond of marriage. Although marital satisfaction is culturally dependent, attachment styles, ongoing conflicts in one's relationship, and sexual satisfaction are some of the common factors associated with marital satisfaction across cultures. With an increasing trend of more couples approaching experts for therapy, marital therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists should have sound knowledge of the factors associated with marital satisfaction. This helps in delivering effective services to their clients.

Financial support and sponsorship

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Appendix





 
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Correspondence Address:
Sripathi Santhosh Goud,
Department of Psychiatry, Indlas VIMHANS Hospital, Vijayawada - 520 002, Andhrapradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/amh.amh_146_21




 
 
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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]



 

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