Conflict resolution styles, somatization, and marital satisfaction in Chinese couples: The moderating effect of forgiveness and willingness to seek professional help
Lim, Ben Kock Hong
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This is the first study to examine the predictors of somatization and marital satisfaction within the Chinese-American and Chinese-Malaysian populations. Attention was given as well to the relationship between somatization and marital satisfaction. Participants were 311 Chinese couples, of which 141 resided in the United States and 170 in Malaysia. With the assistance of pastors and church leaders, a snowball sampling technique was used to recruit church-going couples in heterosexual marriages. Six measures were used, the Rahim Organizational Conflict Inventory (marital conflict), the Stress Symptom Checklist (somatization), the Family Forgiveness Scale- Primary Relationship (forgiveness), the Suinn-Lew Asian Self-Identity Acculturation Scale (acculturation), the Attitudes Toward Seeking Psychological Professional Help (willingness to seeking help), and the Relationship Assessment Scale (marital satisfaction). A standardized hierarchical multiple regression moderated procedure was used to examine how the main effects of conflict resolution styles (compromising, obliging, dominating, avoiding and integrating), forgiveness, and the willingness to seek professional help, predicted marital satisfaction and somatization. The regression model also examined how marital satisfaction and somatization covary. Demographic variables and the partners' main effects were included in the regression equations as covariates. The results revealed different significant predictors of somatization and marital satisfaction for husbands and wives. This partially supported the various hypotheses. The moderating effects of forgiveness and willingness to seek help on both somatization and marital satisfaction were not supported. A 2 X 2 repeated measures ANOVA with age as a covariate indicated that there was no significant main effect of gender for somatization. However, age and nationality of the couples were significant predictors of somatization. With respect to the willingness to seek help and its relation with acculturation, an independent t-test indicated that partners residing in the United States were significantly more acculturated than their Malaysian counterparts. The analysis revealed that level of acculturation was positively associated with willingness to seek professional help. Two repeated measures ANOVAs indicated that wives in both the U.S. and Malaysia were more willing to seek professional help than their husbands, and that the husbands reported greater marital satisfaction than their wives. The results and implications from a systemic dyadic perspective are discussed from a Chinese cultural framework. Both theoretical and clinical critiques are made and several future research directions are proposed to advance this line of inquiry.