We then used cross-lagged path models to examine the bidirectional associations between communication and marital satisfaction over time see Figure 1 for sample model. These models are commonly used in longitudinal research to test the direction of influence between two variables e. This design examines both pathways of interest e. It is more conservative than a regression analysis because both dependent variables are entered into the model and allowed to correlate, thereby accounting for the multicollinearity between the two dependent variables and leaving less variance in the dependent variables to be explained by the independent variables.
This procedure accommodates missing data using full information maximum likelihood FIML , so models were estimated using all available observations i. Predictor variables included communication and marital satisfaction from the preceding time point e. Because the stability paths are included in the model e. Of note, in cross-lagged path models, the stability paths represent rank-order stability within the sample e. We examined the significance of the stability and cross-lagged paths and compared their relative magnitude using Wald tests.
We focus now on the cross-lagged effects. All results are standardized coefficients. Results for positivity are shown in Table 3.
How to Communicate in a Relationship: Communiation Between Couples
Effects were found across all three lags and on a within- e. We compared the relative magnitude of the satisfaction-to-positivity effect and the positivity-to-satisfaction effect using Wald tests Table 3. Results for negativity are shown in Table 4. Effects were found at the first two lags and on a within- and cross-spouse basis. Wald tests comparing the satisfaction-to-negativity effect and the negativity-to-satisfaction effect indicated that the satisfaction-to-negativity effects were stronger than the negativity-to-satisfaction effects at four of the lags: Results for effectiveness are shown in Table 5.
Finally, we used only the first and last waves of data to examine the associations between satisfaction and communication over a longer period of time approximately 2. First, as shown in Table 6 , we analyzed the cross-lagged models described earlier using the first and last wave of data. Given that stability effects were consistently stronger for satisfaction than for communication see Table 6 , left side , it is possible that the nonsignificant behavior-to-satisfaction effects are a statistical artifact, as controlling for baseline satisfaction removes more explainable variance in satisfaction than is the case when controlling for baseline communication.
To evaluate this possibility, we examined whether Wave 1 behavior scores covaried with Wave 4 satisfaction scores before controlling for Wave 1 satisfaction scores. We therefore calculated the zero-order correlations between a Wave 1 satisfaction scores and Wave 4 communication behaviors and b Wave 1 communication behaviors and Wave 4 satisfaction scores. As shown in Table 7 , 10 of the 12 satisfaction-to-behavior correlations were statistically significant, whereas only 3 of the 12 behavior-to-satisfaction correlations were significant. These results indicate that behavior-to-satisfaction effects were not reliable or stronger than the satisfaction-to-behavior effects even prior to controlling for baseline satisfaction, and indicate that the reported results are not an artifact of differential stabilities for satisfaction and communication.
Consistent with the idea that higher levels of satisfaction are associated with better communication, cross-sectional correlations at each of the four assessments were significant, such that more satisfied spouses showed more positive, less negative, and more effective communication. Cross-lagged analyses examining the reciprocal predictive relationships between satisfaction and communication shed light on the directionality of these cross-sectional effects.
Support for the hypothesis that communication predicted satisfaction was limited. Of the 36 cross-lagged effects using the 9-month lags, only 7 were significant for communication-to-satisfaction, and communication did not predict subsequent satisfaction using only the first and fourth waves of data. More support emerged for the reverse pathway examining satisfaction-to-communication effects.
For the 9-month lags, satisfaction was a significant predictor of communication in twice as many cases, and there was some evidence that satisfaction was a reliable predictor of subsequent communication using only the first and last lags. However, in the majority of cases, there was not significant cross-lagged prediction. Of the seven lags that did differ in magnitude, satisfaction was a stronger predictor of communication than communication was of satisfaction in six cases.
Taken together, these results indicate that satisfaction is a more consistent and stronger predictor of communication than the reverse, but overall both effects are fairly inconsistent and similar in magnitude. Before discussing the implications of these results, we first outline several caveats. First, the study used a sample of low-income, ethnically diverse, first-married, newlywed couples. This sampling strategy was a notable strength of the study, as it captured the experiences of an understudied population and likely allowed for a larger range of communication behavior and marital satisfaction than would be seen in a sample of middle-class White couples.
At the same time, the results may not generalize to other populations, such as more established couples, remarried couples, same-sex couples, and low-income, ethnically diverse couples who choose not to marry. Further research is needed to determine whether the predictive power of communication on relationship satisfaction varies across sample types. We note also that these associations were examined over the first 3 years of marriage. Finally, the stability paths for satisfaction were significantly stronger than the stability paths for communication.
This pattern of results indicates that the between-person, rank-order stability for satisfaction was greater than that for communication, resulting in less variability in satisfaction to be explained relative to communication scores. Nonetheless, after we removed this constraint by computing zero-order correlations between Wave 1 communication and Wave 4 satisfaction and Wave 1 satisfaction and Wave 4 communication , there was no evidence that communication-to-satisfaction effects were particularly robust or stronger than the satisfaction-to-communication effects Table 7.
Thus, the differential stability effects did not disproportionately drive the effects reported here.
Thus, although communication predicted satisfaction in some instances, in general these exchanges did not have lasting effects on relationship satisfaction. This work suggests that more specificity is needed to clarify the circumstances under which communication does and does not predict satisfaction.
For example, it could be the case that only more severe forms of negative exchanges such as aggressive behavior undermine relationship quality e. More attention is also needed to clarify whether factors other than communication serve as the drivers of change in satisfaction. Future empirical work examining factors that do consistently predict satisfaction over time during the early years of marriage will do much to enhance our theoretical understandings of why relationships change.
At the same time, the results for satisfaction-to-communication were not altogether consistent across time or across all domains of functioning. Moreover, although it was true that the magnitude of the satisfaction-to-satisfaction lags were in some cases stronger than the communication-to-satisfaction lags, in the vast majority of cases the relative magnitude of the lags did not differ.
Thus, while satisfaction was a more consistent predictor of communication than communication was of satisfaction, the effect of satisfaction on communication was not particularly robust either, suggesting that other potent forces are at work in affecting change in marriage. More broadly, this study highlights the benefits of repeated assessments of independent variables like communication for understanding relationship development.
Prior studies have typically relied on data from a single initial assessment to predict longitudinal change in satisfaction e. In contrast, this study indicates these processes may not remain consistent over time; longitudinal linkages between communication and satisfaction were generally less robust as time passed, despite consistent cross-sectional associations at each assessment and significant prediction early in marriage.
Fully understanding the nature of the linkages between satisfaction and independent variables like communication thus requires assessing these variables repeatedly over time in tandem with satisfaction in order to adequately test theoretical models of relationship change. The present findings also point to the importance of not assuming that prediction of shorter term follow-up will generalize to prediction at longer term follow-up, given that the few significant results for communication did not replicate across the short and longer lags.
Greater clarity in the marital literature about the definition of and meaning that can be inferred from different follow-up periods would be valuable. Several applied implications also follow from these results. Improving communication has thus been the primary goal in leading models of prevention e.
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Our results indicate that a more nuanced assumption is needed: One consequence of this insight is that improving communication may be a valuable first step so that couples can engage more readily in treatment, but it is unlikely to be a sufficient ingredient for lasting change in relationship satisfaction. Interventions that also help couples understand and process their other difficulties, and that teach them to navigate these problems more effectively, are likely to be beneficial e. These interventions may foster the development of higher-order dyadic capacities such as helping couples learn when to raise concerns or why certain problems are particularly difficult.
Such skills are distinct from helping them learn how to discuss their difficulties and could have more robust and long-lasting effects on satisfaction. In sum, these results indicate that communication does in some cases foreshadow later judgments of relationship satisfaction and that higher levels of initial satisfaction can eventuate into unions that are more interpersonally harmonious.
On the whole, however, these effects are not particularly strong or consistent over time, leaving open important questions about the interpersonal processes that enable couples to sustain high levels of satisfaction and adaptive communication during the newlywed years. Lavner, University of Georgia.
Karney, University of California, Los Angeles. Bradbury, University of California, Los Angeles. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Author manuscript; available in PMC Jun 1. Lavner , Benjamin R. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer.
Lavner, University of Georgia;. See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Brief Review of Research: Considering Bidirectional Linkages These findings pose a critical challenge for behavioral theories: The Current Study In this study we used four waves of data from a sample of low-income, ethnically diverse newlywed couples studied over the first 3 years of marriage to examine the direction of the relationship s between marital satisfaction and observed communication.
Method Sampling The sampling procedure was designed to yield participants who were first-married newlywed couples in which partners were of the same ethnicity, living in low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles County. Participants For the couples who completed the study, at the time of initial assessment, marriages averaged 4. Procedure Couples were visited in their homes by two trained interviewers who described the IRB-approved study and obtained written informed consent from each participant.
Open in a separate window. Marital Satisfaction Questionnaire Marital satisfaction was assessed by summing responses on an eight-item questionnaire. Results Cross-Sectional Correlations Before examining the longitudinal associations between marital satisfaction and communication behaviors, we examined their cross-sectional associations Table 2. Analytic Plan We then used cross-lagged path models to examine the bidirectional associations between communication and marital satisfaction over time see Figure 1 for sample model.
Positivity Results for positivity are shown in Table 3. Negativity Results for negativity are shown in Table 4. Effectiveness Results for effectiveness are shown in Table 5. Wave 1 to Wave 4 Analyses Finally, we used only the first and last waves of data to examine the associations between satisfaction and communication over a longer period of time approximately 2. Contributor Information Justin A. References Ajzen I, Fishbein M. A theoretical analysis and review of empirical research.
Common principles of couple therapy. The scree test for the number of factors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Linking economic hardship to marital quality and instability. Journal of Marriage and Family. Neighborhood context and financial strain as predictors of marital interaction and marital quality in African American couples.
Why do couples seek marital therapy? Using indirect estimates based on name and census tract to improve the efficiency of sampling matched ethnic couples from marriage license data.
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Therapist ratings of frequency and severity of marital problems: Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. Gender and conflict structure in marital interaction: A replication and extension. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The supporting healthy marriage evaluation: Early impacts on low-income families. Administration for Children and Families, U.
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Communication Between Couples: How to Communicate in a Relationship
End of life and palliative care services. Hospitals, surgery and procedures. Planning and coordinating healthcare. Pregnancy and birth services. Relationships and communication Share show more. Relationships Relationships - Relationship basics Relationships - Developing relationships. Communication is important in relationships. We need to talk openly and be good listeners. Most people can learn how to communicate more effectively.
Share positive feelings about your partner with them. It is better to act early if you are having difficulties, rather than waiting for the situation to get worse. Good communication is an important part of all relationships and is an essential part of any healthy partnership. All relationships have ups and downs, but a healthy communication style can make it easier to deal with conflict, and build a stronger and healthier partnership.
We often hear how important communication is, but not what it is and how we can use good communication in our relationships. By definition, communication is the transfer of information from one place to another. In relationships, communication allows to you explain to someone else what you are experiencing and what your needs are. The act of communicating not only helps to meet your needs, but it also helps you to be connected in your relationship. Communicating clearly in a relationship Talk to each other. When you talk to your partner, try to: If the issue you are having is not that important, sometimes let the issue go, or agree to disagree.
Non-verbal communication When we communicate, we can say a lot without speaking. Listening and communication Listening is a very important part of effective communication. Tips for good listening include: It might be better to calm down before you address the issue ask for feedback from the other person on your listening. Improving communication in a relationship Open and clear communication can be learnt. You can help to improve your communication by: Intimacy is created by having moments of feeling close and attached to your partner. It means being able to comfort and be comforted, and to be open and honest.
An act of intimacy can be as simple as bringing your partner a cup of tea because you can tell they are tired being on the same page as your partner. To improve the way you communicate, start by asking questions such as: What things cause conflict between you and your partner? Are they because you are not listening to each other? What things bring you happiness and feelings of connection? What things cause you disappointment and pain? How would you like your communication with your partner to be different?
Some things are difficult to communicate Most of us find some experiences or topics difficult to talk about. Managing conflict with communication Avoid using the silent treatment. Find out all the facts rather than guessing at motives. Discuss what actually happened. Learn to understand each other, not to defeat each other. Talk using the future and present tense, not the past tense. Services and programs are available nationally Tel. Send us your feedback.
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