A study of marital satisfaction in graduate student marriages



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Texas Tech University


A number of empirical studies have examined how variables such as communication, intimacy, dissimilar expectations, financial and personal stress, social support, and the presence of children affect satisfaction in marriage. Chronic stress, like that found in graduate education, has a profound impact on marital satisfaction, and may also be related to other variables such as intimacy and financial concerns. The purpose of this study was to examine marital satisfaction in graduate student marriages and the variables that relate to marital satisfaction.

At a large southwestern university, some 161 married couples in which at least one partner was a student in medical school, law school, or other graduate program were assessed. The student and his or her spouse were asked to complete separate questionnaires which consisted of demographic information, and measures of social support, self-disclosure, marital expectations, and love styles. Satisfaction was correlated with marital commitment, physical intimacy, self-disclosure and passionate love. Greater marital satisfaction was found in marriages where both partners were students than in marriages with only one partner in school. However, no differences in marital satisfaction were found between male and female graduate students. It had been assumed that female graduate students, in addition to school responsibilities, would have greater parental and home responsibilities than male graduate students and would feel less satisfied. However, this was not the case. Regression analyses also showed the importance of personal happiness, marital commitment, physical intimacy, and a spouse doing his or her fair share of the housework for marital satisfaction. The implications of these findings are discussed.



Marriage, Graduate students, Stress (Psychology), Satisfaction