The effects of self-disclosure, self-esteem, and love/sex attitude similarity on marital satisfaction: A multidimensional analysis
Greenfield, David N
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This research examined the effects of spousal self-disclosure, self-esteem, and love/sex attitude similarity on marital satisfaction. Married couples were recruited through a variety of local sources, including samples from several clinical settings and divided into three independent groups utilizing the mean husband-wife Global Distress Scale score from the Marital Satisfaction Inventory (MSI) (Snyder, 1981). Following Snyder's clinical breakdown, the groups reflected satisfied, moderate, and distressed couples. Couples were also administered the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (1965), the Opener Scale and Discloser Index (Miller, Berg, & Archer, 1983), and the Love/Sex Attitude Scale (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1984). A comprehensive demographic questionnaire was also given. Utilizing a correlational design, the dependent variables of self-disclosure, self-esteem, and love/sex attitude similarity were analyzed by an analysis of variance. Each dependent variable was also correlated with the mean husband-wife marital satisfaction level. An intercorrelation matrix for all variables and composite variables was computed and a stepwise regression analysis was applied post hoc. Results of this research support the importance of communication in marital satisfaction. When sex differences were examined, this effect was far greater for wives than for husbands and appears to apply more to the elicitation (opening) of self-disclosure, as compared to the expression of disclosure. Opener scores for both husband and wife were also correlated with their spouse's individual marital satisfaction scores. (The relationship was greater for wives' opener scores with husbands' marital satisfaction.) Self-esteem proved to be significantly related to marital satisfaction for husbands and wives, Differences between husband and wife self-esteem levels were not noted among the three couple groups. Individuals' ratings "as if" spouse were rating their self-esteem differed across the three groups. Love/sex attitude similarity differed significantly for sex attitudes only (not for love attitudes) with greater distress with greater husband-wife attitude differences. Results of the regression analysis indicated that the wife's communication eliciting ability accounted for nearly 50 percent of the couples' mean marital satisfaction variance. The second highest amount of variance was accounted for by husbands' level of self-esteem with 13 percent of the mean marital satisfaction variance. Results are discussed from an interpersonal and individual perspective.